Dana Levin

Stomach with a skin of light.


Without a knife he opened himself up.


Without a knife.


Chinese letters marched around him in formation,

    a military equestrian parade—


He was adept, in my book on the golden flower.


On a bed of peacock tails.


And he was opening his abdomen with both his hands,

    parting it like curtains.


And I thought if I looked at him long enough, I might go through there.


Through the flame-shaped opening.


Where there sat another lotus-sitting figure.


And the captain said, Origin of a new being in the place of power.


And so I thought, that was the flower.




What was the body but a scalpel and a light what was it—


Rubbing an oil into scars like a river for the first time I touched them—


I was an adept in the book of vivid pain, I used my finger like a knife—




    to hurt myself, but to somehow get back in


like the little man opening his belly right up,

    and the little man resting inside there.


But how could I. When I would not enter the flower-shaped opening.

When I hovered



But never leaving it, always nearing it, a fly on the verge of something



Was that what the body was, a sweetness?


Hive ringed by fire.




And the adept says, That's you on the bed: Empty Chamber.


And your stomach

                            is open like a coat—


It's black in there, deep.

It's red in there, thick

                               with the human loam—


And all along your ghost head and your shoulders 

         you can feel the wet

as you slide back in,

         your tissues cupping you like hands.


The body: worm round an ember of light.


You're in it now.



Found In Volume 31, No. 04
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Dana Levin
About the Author

Dana Levin’s books are In the Surgical Theatre, winner of the 1999 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, Wedding Day, and Sky Burial (Copper Canyon Press).