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What I saw had no solidity, it was all made of mist and nylon, with nothing behind.
—Anna Kavan, Ice                

In the second year of our relationship
the insurance company decides I do not exist.
I pinch my forearm: I am real.
My social security number remains unaccepted:
I am not. I go out to the garden
to prop the seven-foot-tall American Giant
sunflower up against the severing fall winds.
Its stalk feels strong enough
to pin my body back to the earth.
There is pain and there is stillness.
Knees up on the table, shaking with both
after the dark red clumps had stopped sloughing
from my cervix. The cancer-reducing procedure’s
complications. The clumps like raw chicken livers
I once watched a man beat with eggs and quinoa
in a silver bowl to feed to his dog.
I would assume they understood
what it meant to be real. The distant windmills
tiny and spare. A single cormorant standing
and raising his wings to the sun, beckoning.
The sunflowers grow tall
and stay standing long after the others fall
the seed catalogue singsongs.
Long after has arrived and gone without ceremony
or as much as a hand squeeze before they leave you,
wiping the speculum and tossing plastic gloves in the trash.
Lying still I can feel the men pouring liquid aluminum
into my veins like the anthill in the video.
I know how they filled
the empty space, then pulled
everything from the ground to show
us a thousand, tiny, lifeless metal rooms.

Emmy Newman’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Permafrost, Poetry Northwest, CALYX, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and several Pushcart Prizes, and currently serves as the Marketing and Events Manager for Split/Lip Press. Find her on Instagram @she_wins_an_emmy.
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