The Human Infrastructure Representative
by Katie Condon

I.
The Human Infrastructure Representative’s clients
never thought of their insides as inner frameworks or
fundamental facilities serving their bodies until

he said things like, Your bodies are entire countries
listening
or it’s like you’re grasping for pocket watches
with time capsules
, which of course the

clients translated to: eat more arugula
and always tip your doctor. The Human
Infrastructure Representative, on the other hand,

never tips his doctors. Defining our insides
as assorted meats and pustules cannot be
representing human insides accurately,

which is why The Human Infrastructure Representative
never majored in medicine. The Human Infrastructure
Representative favored philosophies that viewed

anatomy as ghostlike. He liked
to imagine our livers as fog off an ocean
and our rib cages as twisted wrought iron

during Autumn. The insides were never
threatening or merciless—only troubled
and tragic like rivers. A headache meant that

the canaries had escaped from the iris,
vomit was the rowboat finally moving,
cancer was sometimes soft

and swanlike, but many times
the swallows sang before the dawn.
The Human Infrastructure Representative

perceives his chore as blinding. As humans,
he thought, we are programmed against ourselves.
As humans we try not to imagine hearts

as weather patterns. A Human Infrastructure
Representative can sometimes only work
with the mind—an infrastructure knows

its limits. It knows the consequences
of being any place and leaving it,
of being any place and staying there.

II.
It is important to start small.

Our insides can be breached,
but they will know we are breaching them.

The human infrastructure is not a cave

that asks for passwords. Our infrastructures
are reserved, but they can sense doors

opening and closing—

they know when sparrows
have crossed the divide and they follow them

to where they are flying, quietly waiting

for us to notice their absence, which we do,
for a time, and sometimes try and glide on their tailwind,

more often than not, falling much faster than we

can ever bare to explain to the people
who examine the wounded and wonder why on earth

we put ourselves in a position to fall.

The Human Infrastructure Representative explains
that it is not the falling that matters,
not the heaving speech of air rushing in and out of our ears

as the ground pulses and becomes closer—
the significance is in our insides leaving,

but still begging to be breached.

They plead to be followed, they plead
to be found and entered, they plead for us

to chew off their hangnails, reconstruct

their breasts, and explain exactly what they
mean to us under the gray light that causes trees

to feel and look like people, but they refuse

to make it simple for us to reach out
and touch their chapped and blood red lips

with our limited vocabularies.

Our hearts start raining, our vaginas
will not withdraw from the race.

The pancreas wipes the toilet seat

with its shirt sleeve before
sitting. Canaries

sing, rowboats float in bile,

passwords are not prerequisites,
but caves can only speak in code.

III.
We are forever standing in cemeteries,
forever swimming
           in the amygdala,

                   the souls’ breath,

but I have to exit to tell you this,
I have to leave because the paper is drying
and the paper wants to taste the tongue’s breath always.

           It is raining,

      and our tubes and intestines have no idea
      that they are in the presence of themselves,

replicated, reproduced in another,

not in the form of birch trees or the nails we nail them to our walls with,
not in the way that children are so thoughtfully constructed in our uteri—

there is a moment of wishing for the honest things:
rowboats being simply rowboats,
water waiting to fall from its cloud,

                          and when it does fall,

falling onto the hair freshly washed, resisting temperament,
a hat pulled over eyes in the hope it will be removed.

Some let the mess in;

let the vomit heave up
from their stomachs to their throats into the porcelain dolls
that remind us of our humanities,
                                                      a bird singing
              of its existence at gas stations,
              wondering what boxes we stack in our basements
              and how they are not hidden from the ones we try to not love;

              we don’t love the solitude shared on our own time
              we don’t love the veins that connect the whites of our eyes
              to our white skulls,
                                          we don’t love the shit forced
              out of our rectums, but we love the action,
              because the action is the fight we are facing
              as the day turns in and calls us back
              to the toilet brushes, and couch cushions
              that so sadly need us.

IV.
A minute in the body is a minute
too lonely to be raptured,
                                          too heartfelt
to be recognized,
                                too much like a tree
to be considered shade—
                                                  our time
is spent in silence counting
                               hours like crows on fence posts,

                   imagining rain fucking our roofs
                                   and requesting that it stay there.

            We delay in the orchard, fight daylight,
ask the other to rip the other apart, fingers first, then the left wrist—
we dangle our larynxes from apple blossoms,

            drape our tongues over wicker baskets,
hang our genitals from the highest boughs so that even
            the fog will know we are trying grasp it,
break it down, understand its shape and the best way to mimic it.

                   We bribe the heart to shut down its bridges,
                                   send its rivers up through the nostrils,
          out from the mouth, into the soul in torrents,
                   in waterfalls, in thick efforts
                                                                   to remind the body of its body,
                                   to reconvene the court that robbed us of our anatomies
            but not their abilities to fuck and let it be, to love someone for an hour
                   in the grass and love them for an hour in the trees and still not love
                                                    them when they leave.

               We hang poems on our walls with string,
collect rain in cupped hands, feed our souls with minutes stolen
       from gravesites and strangers.

                                                           The heart refuses to draw its bridges
                                   until its bridges are willing to make their back stages their front,
                                               until their pillars are more than just legs to stand on,
                                               more than the cement that roots them to their seats—

it would be easy to let the river touch your breasts,
simple for the wind to love the moisture
lingering in the folds of your skin,

                                                           but the body doesn’t know that the body
                                               is not a home forever and the heart doesn’t
                                                                                             have the heart to tell it.

 

 

 

Katie Condon is an MFA candidate at the University of Houston. Her work has also appeared in LEVELER and Country Music Poetry.