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These are the words of a woman in metamorphosis.

Listen to this: even as I stand before you

now, strands of chaos appear – gouged from fertile

ground and hovering in the signature salsa

of smoke and waves. Siren sounds form within

sediment and rebound against red canyon walls.

I sing: I smother their ancient imprint.

I weather slopes to gravel when I lengthen

my stride. I gather my pride like prairie

petticoats, hopscotch across branded obstacles

with the mad passion of Rasputin. My faithless

fervor forges fevers beneath my skin.

I emit ceaseless heat when I sleep, leave

my lovers singed. I once fell into bed

with Jesse James: he ran his calloused hands

across my hips, we laid awake. By morning,

his fingerprints were entirely erased. He came

back once a month. There was no stench this way,

he explained, and less pain than by flames – but

not by much. The first few times, he couldn’t

help crying. I tried to ease his shame: kissed

his moist cheeks until his tears boiled away

on my lips. One day, he was gone. He left me

the dog, a stack of old magazines, and the taste

of slightly-charred salt: a lesson in love. Test me.

Press me against a wall and see what Houdini

bequeathed to me – I will disappear before your eyes!

I can escape even this scarred flesh, recast my shape

in some new place. I am an evolution in grace; an assault

against invented space and history’s baggage. I will relate

to you the sidereal revolutions that spin beneath language.

I will turn the pages of your retrograde stasis, or exist within

the raised gauges of your perspective, as glib as change.

I will scorch your heart with one embrace.

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