XIX. Philemon: Notes from the Underground

Tonight this subway car is permitted
to bear me in its belly through a black tunnel in rock.
And in the evil of my pride, I get
to forget I am You-formed—needlework of hair
stitched to my scalp growing outward,
stonework of bone, fret lines of tendon.
In this dark vehicle, I sit unstrapped
among other similarly shaved animals.
The long light above us is sick green,
the rivets holding our vehicle together are regular
the way stars are not. They foretell
fuck all. I place my palms together, fingers unlit
tapers invisibly burning for you.
Thirst is the truest knowledge of water.

“XIX. Philemon: Notes from the Underground” from Tropic of Squalor by Mary Karr. Copyright © 2018 by Mary Karr. Originally published by Harper. Used with the permission of the poet.