My Brother's Body

By 
Jan Bottiglieri

My brother lost his body
bit by bit—a foot, a finger, a shin.

The doctors strapped it to a bed,
and the mouth screamed on its behalf:

Help! Help! With the eyes,
my brother spied me, standing

in the body of someone
who looked like his sister;

and the mouth said
Health! Health! but my

body had no way of sharing.
Stubborn, he set his body

to starving: it’s a hard going.
One day I tricked it

into eating cake
by saying we were at a party.

The body likes to do what
everyone else is doing.

When he was done with it,
I could tell: every limb

he had left sighed, sank
and rose again softly, like smoke.

Like smoke: when he was done,
my brother had his body

set aflame. My body, always
dutiful, arranged it.

In the white room, roses, burning.
Then it was over. I took him home.

Jan Bottiglieri is a freelance writer in suburban Chicago and holds an MFA in poetry from Pacific University. She is an associate editor for the literary annual RHINO, and her poems have appeared in Court Green, Rattle, Margie, and elsewhere. Jan’s chapbook Where Gravity Pools the Sugar is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

—bucketofrhymes, "29 Amazing Literary Magazines You Need To Be Reading", Buzzfeed Books

Room relies on subscriptions from readers like you. Help us continue to promote and support diverse women and genderqueer authors and artists by subscribing today.

SUBSCRIBE

More from the Reading Room

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room 41.2, Changing Language
    Edited by Kayi Wong

    In this issue:

    Manahil Bandukwala, Fang Bu, Allison Graves, Kadijah Guillaume, Ava Homa, Ashley Hynd, Amy LeBlanc, Vanessa Lent, Tasslyn Magnusson, Chloe Yelena Miller, Amy Oldfield, Alycia Pirmohamed, Mia Poirier, Victoria Prevot, Michelle Purchase, Jade Riordan, Ellie Sawatzky, Bren Simmers, Dahae Song, Anne Stone, Susie Taylor, Katherena Vermette, Kayi Wong, Hiba Zafran, Shellie Zhang

    .