BY: Leila Bilick

If I eat a pulled pork sandwich
and if I love it
will some small section of my body
like a nailbed remain kosher?
If not, what other undoings?
If I am a gift I once gave someone
can I take myself back?
If I become a woman with a little black dress
who else can I become?
If they say I look younger and younger
the older I get
will I know the moment of my birth when I arrive?
If I tell a man in a dark bar that I want him
that his mouth is pretty
and I don’t care what he has to say
will I still love to read?
If I believe I’m afraid of water
but I’m already in the pool
is this like a dream about drowning?
And if fire is my element now
does it matter?
If fear is the dark side of desire
If the bar fills with light
and I become visible
If I bloom full-petalled
If I love the salt on the tongue
If my body becomes the pooled light of desire
If shame slips off like a final piece
of discarded clothing
If I give myself and take myself away
like a God I once knew
If answers come and I refuse them
Which is to say I reject wholeness
Which is to say holiness
And if this hunger won’t be sated
if this ache
if I have no need for healing
if the joy, if freedom
is in asking asking asking

Leila Bilick’s poetry has been published in Soundings East and The Merrimack Review. She has an MA in English from UMass Boston, and works as a grant writer. She hails from the East Coast but is slowly and surely making Los Angeles her home. She has two daughters.