Diagnostic Procedures by Taylor Kirby

I say I metastasize when asked about my body
image. I do not think
of the inverted cliff

of my FUPA or how a knife
held to my neck could excise
the soft biological shape

of my family. My body
is antiseptic.
I want to contour my face

with iodine’s thirsty glow.
That three-month ache
above my hips—

must be cancer chewing
vertebrae, my back a honeycomb
of bone sweet with sick marrow.

I do not fear germs or hereditary
betrayal, that double helix calculus
of past and present: bipolar,

Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic
evangelism. I don’t mind—really—
that my 90% of my body’s 100

trillion cells are not me.
I am a density of virus, bacteria, microorganism,
and self. It is my self, not my body,

& that is at risk of calamity. I fear
being told my diagnosis
is “It’s time to fight,” because

my image of the body is not one
of trenches. It’s the way air
hollows out between car alarm cycles

& the night and I hold our breaths
waiting for something to start or to stop,
whichever comes first.


Taylor Kirby is a writer from Denver, Colorado. She is the managing editor of Porter House Review, and her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Cream City Review, Longleaf Review, Jellyfish Review, Pithead Chapel, Atticus Review, and more. Most recently, she was a finalist for the 2019 Indiana Review Creative Nonfiction Prize.

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