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Project for a Machine for Grasping

Emergence is what arises from the body
struck in the sternum by the car bumper
wrenched behind the turbine, what arises
is death from the body, an emergency coaxed

out of it, as if the fly had laid its worm in the flesh
as if the accident writhed inside the marbled muscle until
the machine freed it. While the brain shuts down,
tiny people, tiny horses dance in the corner

of the eyelids, dogs jump over one another's
backs, elephants balance gently on that solid
knuckle of hoof.
The act of severing lodges in the limb,
in the torn corner of the heart, in the cut that wears

down bone. Ambulances lazily circle the city. The silica settles
for years until one cough loosens it in the body; it begins
in the ambulance to fall back onto the world from the trees
where its dark snow has been settling. The ashy street

a week after the storm. Walking on the mounds, the backs
of buried houses and topsoil, the beta rays burrow
up through the body, through the cut foot, begin in mutation
to bloom out a new and legless body, emerge across

the red forest left behind. Failure roots, ruts, roams
through the body, scoping out the most dramatic entrance,
imagining his face emerging finally at the end
of the beautiful sequence of those flashing blue lights.

Sasha West

Failure and I Bury the Body
Harper Perennial

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