Ostensibly Numb

Natalie Shau

Natalie Shau

I need to believe

That there is something

Inside still salvageable

Some overlooked heart fragment

Still red, ripe, and pumping

Some hint of the original

So that without

Too much embellishment

I can say

I am still myself,

At least the parts

Worthy of presentation.


I thought it was okay to die,

My right to step into the war

And come out again

A hero, in a discreet box

Adorned with some flag.

A picture of you perhaps?

(The one who murders

Has the right to confiscate

My body, having emptied

The suit for deployment)


I have thwarted evolution

My component fibers

Coarse as burlap

Settle in the gut

Like a mutiny

Of bewitched caterpillars

They chew the binding

Of all my diaries

That not a letter arrives

In the order of consignment


My self-improvement efforts

Are much too clinical,

They don’t leave much space

For living, only doing

And I’ve done enough

To earn the title of Sisyphus.

A visit to the anesthesiologist

Will keep me ostensibly numb

Numb as a glacier passing

From ship to ship,

An eviscerating tower

Unalterable in its contacts


The less we know

The more encompassing

The excuse

I live to pilfer

If you possess it

Why shouldn’t I?

And if I am you

Than I’ve no reason

To acknowledge my roots

Those obscene snares

Which remind me

Of the refuse

From which I rose


No I’d rather be you

That I can remain pristine

A Goddess, infallible,

Untouchable, reduced to ash

In the eyes of unscrupulous mortals

Yes I’d rather be death

In a human disguise