listen, I tell you from behind

at the bathroom mirror holding my wrist

to your ear. still slowly you lean

toward your face you fear is too close

to ecru. you finger cheekbone skin

as if splitting eggshell halves

to free the embryo inside. you’re still

hunted by a ghost whose breathprints

none of us have scrubbed true


from our bodies. no—it’s not punishment

you’re after       wishing tissue

could spill proof of what we used

to look like. no—you crave more than

the masochistic act.      you want

to sound the red bell of retribution—

have god throw open his gate and invite

you back into yourself. but, baby, I wonder

has it ever been possible to dream

oneself back into an existence one

already is? and for what?—since


the craniometer has rendered

its final measurements for all who care

about the size of skulls to see. the ghost still

floats inside the shack within us all,

still fingering tears travelling

roads of dark cheeks that have led us

to where we are now: I press my pelvis

into the back of you      and together

we shut our eyes in order to hear clearer

a reconciled rush of blood.

Akhim Yuseff Cabey is a Pushcart Prize-winning black author whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, the Florida Review, Rhino, Passages North, Salamander, the Minnesota Review, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. Originally from the Bronx, New York, he now lives in Columbus, Ohio.