Silence. Only the collapsing echo of my love, a birdcage, emptied and drowned.
These hands, remove them for me, fold and press their digits gently, remember what they once touched, remember the velvet folds between the digits, how they tasted, and make sure to pack the nails extra carefully. Press them too hard into your skin and they might break.
These wrists, full of frail, bird-like bones, light as crumbs, take them too, for the sin of curving too well, for allowing the hands to cup, to make shapes in the air. Layer them in paper, remember they do not need starch. My feet, including the tired ankles and the firm flesh up to the knee, may be treated the same.
Remove, as well, my tongue, tear it from the root like a vegetable from the soft, red earth of my mouth. Strip it of skin, of any velvet layers of language that survived after the word goodbye. Do not spill whatever sad whispering kisses remain. They are of limited number and will be worth more later, each delicate, easy to tear, a collector’s item.
Take, too, my lips, stained scarlet, but drained of blood, pinched, sorrowful. Press them like a plucked and dying flower between the pages of a book.
Behind these is my larynx, my voice, now as dark and mysterious as a cardboard tube. Close it, sew it shut, and hang it outside in the rain. It will predict thunderstorms with the accuracy of a stick charted tide, with the acumen of an owl late at night. Once that is done, reach in again, press the roof of my mouth with the tips of your fingers as we did in love, wetting your nerves with the heat of my mouth, and twist out my teeth, each fanged ivory key a bead for your rosary, an atheist’s prayer for peace.
Stop my pulse next, the musical hammer of blood through veins, the countdown beat between this second and the next. Slice open my arteries with your fingernails, as tenderly as you might touch me in my sleep, allowing for the sweet balanced tension and compression of dreams.
Once you have broken my skin, peel my forearms, elbows, arms, and shoulders, organic fabric tatters, then take the hard knife of your mercy to the cream between my breasts, illustrating scarlet lines like elegant letters only the dead may read, break upon my ribcage, and note the already amputated heart, orphaned without you. Remark upon it, the hollow gap, the empty cavity underneath the cracked bones in the moist center between my lungs, remark upon it and continue, excise the organs that carried the breath that beat with your name. Pat them dry. Wrap them in silk, my undyed hair.
Dig out, as well, my liver, ancient seat of bravery, and my bile, black for Spring, to mark when first we met. Unseat my pancreas, my kidneys, my overweening spleen, as livid as it’s ever been, (anger, as you know, is in these days), my perpetually mistaken brain. For the sweetbreads you will need vinegar, for the ovaries you will need salt.
Somewhere underneath my organs, my failing stomach, the deeper tissue structures, frail as the same, rests the train crash of my spine. Pull it from my body like segmented string, each knob a memory under your fingers, a zipper torn from the history of our flesh. Caress where the joints surrender to movement, think of puppetry and wood, the blue milk pale of bone, think of how it arched when you asked it to during the dark forensics of sex, then coil it, paint it white, coat it in silver, and wait. Your guilt will subside.