Our Bodies

Anastasia Kirchoff

I discover my eyes abandoned by an old college roommate. She’d left them behind with her dried-up art supplies and a blanket adorned by a collage of unidentifiable stains. My legs come from a discount bin in the way back of a thrift store that smells like frankincense and cat urine. My skin is sewn into place by all my exes that smoke too much, tinted green and mother-of-pearl. My fingernails are stolen by a coworker in the bathroom of our Christmas party after we have too much wine. We are a short-lived experiment, sloppy and endearing. I see her bragging about them to our boss on their hourly smoke breaks, using them to pick lint from her suit. I sell my toes online. I’d painted them to look nice and get a good price. My laugh is my mother’s, and I’m always embarrassed to use it, loud and prideful and afraid. I lose my lips in a dare.
       I trade my feet for school. They are heavy and aching by that time. I disappear into crowded classrooms where we study human bodies. I discover that we are signals and gallons of fluid, firing synapses and cortisol and watermelon chapstick. Mine is bubbling, splitting cells, lucid dreams and hypochondria.
       I pluck out my eyelashes one by one for thesis ideas and I dream of my teeth falling out. We discuss the soul in theory, exchange time for collections of words in varying order. I fill my head with ethics and religions and philosophies. I am a theory attached to molting strings of organic code.
       I wonder if I have already traded my soul away. I look for one on camping trips, drunkenly digging around in the spitting flames of the fire. I search for it in the ruins of Peru on an exchange trip. Investigate every painting in the Smithsonian with detached fervor. I try to steal one from the crush and clamor of a protest. Plead for one crammed amongst rioting bodies in the silence of a roaring rock concert. I reach my hand inside my chest and shift things around, trying to feel anything, carving out a suitable space for something so vast. I gently peel my skin off, little by little, in case fragments of it are hiding anywhere. I think I find one once, but like everything else I have, it’s already been used.
       My hips become the grind of every club, my skin painted in the fingerprints of random encounters. My nerves spark along with my favorite songs, bright and filling the negative space.
       I lose my laugh moonlighting for tips at the local sports bar, but the natives have circumstantially shallow pockets. My smile starts to warp, become something I do not recognize. It makes me feel dirty to use it. My hair is long and thick and beautiful, adorned with years of compliments and thinly veiled threats. I let it grow until it trails on the ground behind me. Loop it up high, tie it around my neck to hold myself up.

Anastasia Kirchoff studied writing at the University of Wisconsin Superior. After a post college stint of teaching English in South America, she moved to the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where she currently works in communications and is slowly finishing her first novel. You can find her work in The Nemadji Review, Bending Genres, Ink In Thirds, and The Molotov Cocktail.