about the author

Megan Thoma is a writer and teacher living in Providence, RI. She is the reigning NorthBeast slam champ and has work published in Little White Poetry Journal and on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her students don’t believe teachers are real human beings that “drive cars or have dance parties in their basements.” She does both these things. She is very, very real.

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how the body works

Megan Thoma

I am a tenant in your heart,
but I have lived in places
like this most my life.

It started at ten—
they thought
he had a summer tan,
but that’s just the brown of a girl
stretched thin and holding on.

The year in the lungs
left me ash, but his every breath
reeked wit and curl.

I spent an hour in an asshole—
crawling around with a flashlight
on my head. It wasn’t love.
Just curiosity.

I have filled stomachs.
Tap danced across teeth.
I know how the body works.
How the organs move wet.
How bones ache rain.

I have grown accustomed
to the dark inside you.

The way your pulmonary valve
pushes against my neck all day,
like the steady fluke of a whale
beating across the ocean.

I want to live here.
Make rooms of these chambers.
I’ll start with the atrium.
I’ll paint the walls.

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