If I had Guilt

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.