If I had Guilt

by Allison Collins

If I had guilt
I would unzip the suit of my skin,
undo the hooks, the eyes,
cull out the soft matter,
dismantle the bones and soak
those relics in a bath of bleach, clattering and sudsy.

And, like a toddler heavy with building blocks
or a clumsy surgeon in that game,
the one with outsized tweezers and silly buzzing organs,
I would rehome them,
shrug back into my flesh
and show you my shiny clean.

But I don’t.

A friend told me all I write is longing.
More, always more
amid all this scarcity.

In bruising moments I soothe myself
with Wildean defenses:
The only way to rid yourself of temptation,
is to yield to it. What’s a girl to do?
Think, too, of a bumper sticker I saw,
commanding: Do what you like, like what you do
beside a smiling stick figure. Be more like him.
All my life I’ve found ways to render bad behavior

With justifications made pruning shears
(one blade lexicon, one aphorism)
I snip away the guilt I do not feel,
leave no root-space for remorse.
Easier, then, to cultivate the marrow-rot,
let it breed a fertile fretwork,
all hanging vines draping joints and soft tissue
until I’m full-blooming.

As if I could ever be full.