needle nose plyers the alligator sold his head for scrap & bought a burrow with the fool's gold. i find the tool like crossed legs down where the dirt's gone concrete. everything needs to be removed eventually & you show me a bullet lodged in your knee from a kid's war in the far haystacks. i am the artist of extraction & from all around animals & plants & humans arrive asking for assistance. i stand over rows of tilled earth & help the farmer pluck out the teeth he planted years ago. some have grown the size of fingers. another day i pull pins from an old woman's arm while she tells me she wants to sew a quilt big enough to cover her whole house: each patch a new color. it is comforting to always be removing-- i can forget there are decisions & focus on the unwinding. what do you want to take back? i can help you. once, i even removed a year, thrashing & angry, from the jaws of a young girl. she wept & thanked me & then she turned a year younger. for practice, i used to ressurect song birds but they told me they didn't want to come alive again. i could never understand. now, when they pass by they all silent glare. they value complete cycles. they burry their dead in the clouds but still sometimes one will plummet & i'll be gripping my plyers, trying to resist the tug i could give them--feathers alive again. truly though, what creature doesn't need a good lightswitch. i only did myself once. there was the handprint you left on my back. open wide. all five fingers. i could feel it day & night. it was hard to reach around but i snagged the corner. your hand turned into a song bird & promptly died. sort of kind of free, i took the corpse to the backyard to let the flock handle it. is it wrong to regret your regret? if i had left it there maybe i could still feel that fragment of you-- your hold hand open & chirping against my bare skin. i meet the alligator in a dream to ask him "do you miss your face?" but he has no mouth to answer with. i move the plyers open close to hear what's left of his voice. he says, "i miss everything." i don't give him his skull back. i run from the hole in the earth back into my bedroom. keep the plyers close. more uprooting tomorrow.