Poetry and prose by Macy Punzalan.
Photography by Mira Pusateri.
The Anatomy of Him
My head rests
on his thorax
as his lungs breathe slowly
in and out
from his oris
dot my buccal
& his mentis
on the tippy top
of my parietal
I took his hand to mold with mine
Asking for his digits
our phalanges soon interlocked
And were perfectly intertwined
my otic heard
the sweet hymns
from his larynx
and a dizzy spell cast over me
my heart was stirred
& his heart did hold
like his own hands did.
I could feel it pulse
beneath his 5th intercostal space
Beneath his mid-clavicular line
I looked to him.
his zygomatic bones
a blessing to behold
but what I loved most
Blue irises aside
were the 26 muscles
which transformed his face
So I thanked the good Lord
& the stars above
for the anatomy of him.
Momma whispered to me as the violins began to sing. She wanted a piece of gum outta her little black purse placed to my left and she on my right. She didn’t want Father to notice her grab at it in church. He decided to seat himself right next to us, us being a part of his church and the one we sat in and all.
“What brings you here?” Father asked before the musicians settled down.
Momma explained that we alternated between the two parishes. Father listened attentively to her explanation about hanging on to the very beginning of our roots and transitioning to the new.
He had this overly overt smile that curled up at the ends.
It took a lot outta me to maintain eye contact. His eyes were like bullets piercing right through my own and he always leaned forward just to get through. I smiled back at him with the same wide eyes, trying to match his intensity with my own and hold back my lids from fluttering in protest.
Momma hissed for her gum and my arm scrambled within the small opening in search of the little crushed, cardboard box while Momma and Father talked about how beautiful the newly renovated church was. When I finally got ahold of it, I tried in vain to get one stick out and before I knew it, there were little bits of wrapped minty fresh gum scattered about beneath the pews.
I heard Momma sigh as I stretched forward to pick up the pieces. I wasn’t sure if Father was watching me and judging the mess of white speckles dispersed on the newly tiled floor.
“I remember when this place looked like a warehouse.” Father chuckled.
Momma agreed and complimented the ceiling and how it looked a lot like heaven.
I finished picking up the last few bits on the floor as the choir ended their praises to the Sweet Baby Jesus and snuck one to Momma. Quiet as a mouse she unwrapped the gum from white paper casing and slipped it in her mouth.
I eyed Father to see if he saw what I just did. He didn’t, eyes leaned and fixated on the choir.
Momma was in the clear.
Momma then began to question me if we oughta be polite and offer a stick to Father.
I shook my head, Father didn’t need it.
Just yesterday I lost my temper with my Momma.
She had been yelling at me the whole day and I blew it when she whined about something terribly stupid.
I remembered cussing and lying the weeks before.
Daydreamt out with my head stuck on cloud nine far from the skies of heaven.
I saw ugly, bile-green dinner plates and a cool pitcher of darkness
served up fresh from the warm devil himself.
But what I saw clear as day sittin’ there in the seventh pew dilated and starin’ up to the Lord Jesus Christ
was the red of my arms all laid out
dripping thick and oozy down the wire
I saw warm & cozy sleeves, rubbed and raw
with a heavy heart begging to stop beating
All of a sudden I needed gum too.
I wanted to cover up my bad breath.
My mouth had been dry for a while, cotton mouth, I think Momma called it.
It let the bacteria stink up my mouth until it got so bad you could smell it three seats down.
About Macy Punzalan: I am a resident of Virginia Beach and an avid lover of novels, pathophysiology, and music from the ‘70s. Aside from writing poems and short stories, I play the piano, guitar, ukulele, and have just begun to teach myself how to play the violin. Next year, I will be attending the College of William and Mary to major in Neuroscience and minor in Creative Writing.