Jo Blair Cipriano

Body Image Therapy Center: Day 8

“You know, I’ve been doing this a long time.” Me too. “Funny, Joey…listen: almost always, the root of these things is found in the relationship with the mother.” The mother. “Sure, try to imagine your mother.” Imagine my mother? “Even when we think we have good relationships with our parents, we learn in recovery it’s often more complicated than that.” So you’ve had an eating disorder too, then. “We’re not here to talk about me.” We’re here to talk about me. “Yes.” And my eating disorder. “Right.” You have no idea what we’re going through here. “Why not?” Because you don’t. “What if I told you my sister died of complications surrounding anorexia?” Did she? “What if she did—would you trust me to understand?” So my brother should be a therapist. “That’s not the point.” You switched bodies with your sister before she died. “Of course not.” So I don’t get how you think you can help me. “Let me try.” Try. “What’s your family life like?” Great—I’ve just found out my brother’s an expert on bulimia. “Joey, if you’re not going to take this seriously, I can’t help you.” My brother doesn’t have a job. If you need help, he could start on Monday—we could use the money. “Fine, Joey, fine. And your mother, what about your mother?”


Still Life With Wreckage: Before and After

the spider    alive
still watches   from the ceiling

clots of blood on the floor   rocks
overturned on rough carpet

my bed isn’t mine     it’s evidence     
poisoned   and useless       as a girl    

i understood creation  as distance
from god      who designed you to crave

death in your fist     to recognize
which girls wouldn’t tell

no one    taught me how        
to live with skin that betrays  

how to forgive    the trembling hand
that cushioned my chin

the way it looks now   in daylight

at daybreak   mouth open
the poplar  spits seeds

the shape of his fists
impossible    delicate  

i must’ve prayed wrong      decades
i waited   before he came

life    ripped from my center   then
relief    arrival    the innermost spiral of

a perfect breath     how to know
the way my blood would move

to house him for months
gently    harvesting his name 

i sheltered          this body
is ours now    this wreckage

its mouth   only opens for you

Jo Blair Cipriano (she/her) is a 2019 Brooklyn Poets Fellow whose work has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Copper Nickel, diode poetry journal, Epiphany Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2021 Brooklyn Poets Poem of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Frontier Magazine New Voices Prize. She lives in Tucson, AZ.