Mask Over the Peephole
Hollie Dugas

Mask Over the Peephole

How invincible I think I am with this lung
full of air, longing for wings
as tragedies crawl over my bare skin
and fall into tenderness.
I can’t write with my back to the door
until I fill the bright gaps of light
in the frame with a plastic wrap
that could smother a tick
and put an African mask over the peephole
to scare the phantoms away.
Because in poems I am naked
as the day I was born
and someone contracts salmonella
from cleaning a chicken and smoking
a cigarette simultaneously,
inhales the bacteria wriggling
in the soft colorless skin
directly from its filter as she slices
though a thigh and the microbe goes
rummaging through bronchioles
like a disapproving aunt.
I don’t want to be rummaged.
I have not lived with myself long enough
to grasp anomalies,
how if a baby’s face
does not form in the womb
between two and three months,
it never will. I am wide open enough as it is,
a white hungry color, pores filled
with the microscopic kernels of heartbreak,
leaving only small openings for light.

Hollie Dugas

has contributed to Barrow Street, Redivider, Salamander, Poet Lore, and many other journals. She is on the editorial board of Off the Coast and lives in New Mexico.