Image by Hollis Duncan

Poetry Poem in Which I’m Called Unknowable Despite Near-Constant Nudity

Kindall Fredricks

And fuck if all the bats didn’t just slide under the bridge
like dropped wallets. So what if I have nothing to say
about the vocabulary of flowers—those pinheaded
gossips sunning their perms mid workday with
bees sticking out of their pistils like earbuds.
Every word I have to give is wrapped in tinfoil
and tastes like a fridge. There are no valleys
sunswept in my chest, no dreams shaking loose
change onto my table with a smile as wide as
an uncle or an ashtray. No, my fingers are leathered
by the needlework of tenderness, the patterns
I don’t know to follow. Funny story—I once had
a 74-year-old patient named Vincent. He had dementia
and was always waiting for his mom to pick him up
from school, but the moth-eaten girl from the funeral home
who arrived was young enough to be his granddaughter,
and nobody ever collected his belongings. No, not funny,
but true. No, not true, but still. Isn’t it a tragedy
how we all have names? These little rotted letters
we gather and light on fire. How we expect people to warm
their hands in them. I’ve begun cheeking my real name
like a cyanide capsule. My teeth could crack it open
at any moment. And my favorite moment
to meet a stranger is when the moon and the sun
are awkwardly seated next to each other. Like a child slumped
next to his backpack. He’s there now. Waiting.

Kindall Fredricks is a practicing registered nurse and an MFA candidate at Sam Houston State University, focusing on both poetry and the intersection of literature and the medical sciences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Letters, Grist, Sugar House Review, DIALOGIST, Passages North, Rust + Moth, and more.