Kristin Abraham

A Natural History of Wife-Shaped Faces

Remove from girl all unruly.

Acquaint her with silversnips,
trims, sharpslant tweezes.

Your fiction itself becomes

Remove girl from her six-fingered
flaws, the acid gut-flutter she tries
to name happily. As in ever. As
in after.

Remove girl from her candid
mouth, her candied lips.

But I am heedless, talking dirty
to you like you are the moon.

Remove from girl all plosive
syllables, all vocatives.

Remove from girl pickled
vestigials, jarred-up loves with
identifiable outcomes.

Or like you’re the moon’s downy
hide flayed, its apologetic everything.

Remove girl from so long before
she finds the breath to say it.

Remove girl from the tear-free pinks,
patches of calamine, baby shampoo
and sparkly thin-coat veneers.

I am talking at the heart hissing
away inside you.

Remove from girl all those fight-or-

Remove girl from catgut-strung
cavities, her quivering honest.

I talk at sealing it all up.

Remove from girl the hard to
the tease and strumpet.

I talk at reliquary.

Acquaint her with finelining,

I talk and let it scab.

Diode Logic

Tonight another lost list, loss:


I had two open hearts.


(No matter—still our singular heart

with our uniderectional blood,

that other heart useless,

mostly forgotten.)


Tonight, hog-thick tension /

our rectified conduction.


Sometimes all you have
is landscape.


(What we have: Transplant:

Landscape I-80, one way, all the way:

Traffic valve / bypass

“Factory blowout” / Billboard


Flea market / SWAP-Meet /America:


Pull-chain floor lamps,

Pet potbellied pigs and



Red-checked table cloths,

Broken brass blade oscillating fans,

Philco radios.


Something out, nothing in.

Interstate happenstance.)


That’s us in a nut shell,
us in a nerve cell.


(You / I—

charge carriers—


our just one highway / unilateral

synaptic junctions.)


My self-loathing, an acute degree—


Our derivative violence—

Parallel energies, distant, just so—

minor sparks leap—


I loved you more when there was
a reason to love you.


Gone soft as brain / significant,

when this diode betrays,

we let it.


I loved you more
when there was a reason
to lose you.


Cathode / Anode.

So we understand check-valve,
our mutual one-way:

So we do not recognize
our surrogate intimacies:

brief moment in the synapse
when we witness together,
then spark motions,
one-way syncopation,
one on, one off.




We are not
in the lamp repair business.


We are fumbling hands,
we are not cardiologists.


It was daisies for love,
though, and we did that, too.


Would not be gentled.


You’re too nervous
for the lamp business,
you make me nervous.


Like establishing the identity
of ice.)


Our thrift makes
nothing connect /nerve tract.


(What conflict—


Avalanche diode /Reverse,
asynchronous. We are not




Then “rectifier” became
“diode,”from the Greek:
through /path.




When it’s like
some kind of parade
for us—
our wreck.


Our procession then:


(What we know of
electric is obvious,
of surgery


and nothing—

we know—


How to make self-picnic,

complete with one
angry bear.


Our faces landscape / not
slices of bread—)


After, we watch
some road unroll
behind this car:
tongue, current,
again. Again.


How to define that disposition
in the rearview mirror.


(Universal sequence—

should be universal—



What axon I have become:


and non.


We’ll take the next bypass.


When I can’t possibly—
When I do possibly—


Kristin Abraham is the author of The Disappearing Cowboy Trick (Horse Less Press, 2013) and two chapbooks: Little Red Riding Hood Missed the Bus (Subito Press, 2008) and Orange Reminds You of Listening (Elixir Press, 2006). Her poetry and lyric essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Best New Poets 2005, Columbia Poetry Review, LIT, and American Letters & Commentary. She teaches at a community college in Wyoming, and lives in Colorado, where she serves as editor-in-chief and poetry editor of the literary magazine Spittoon.