innocence machine project

in the bell jar, we mimicked the atmosphere 
of mercury then filled inside with white flowers.
watched them incinerate & dust. wept over their 
swift destruction. surviving & the desire to survive
are separate phenomenon. this is all we've discovered.
then again, i don't think we've discovered anything
it's just been told to us. 
once, when i was still awake,
i literally stood on a lily pad & listened
to the herons gossip about fish flavors. 
i was so light that on windy days my father would
wrap a rope around my waste when i played in the yard
to ensure i wouldn't be taken away. 
i wish i'd been
taken away.
i could have grown up to be a cloud. i could have
been a glass candy maker. instead, 
i turned to science.
filled beakers with blood & listened for bells.
talked to ghosts with a stethoscope to the wall.
they said, "no no no. no more."
now, here i am, trying to return. 
we were hired not for our skill but for
our longing. asked to look through a pair of goggles 
all of us saw bowls of strawberries just out of reach 
but ready to eat.
the experiments are to no avail. another dissects 
lightbulb filaments & searches for
a certain glow. i lay on my back
& the ceiling snows sugar. think "i could have
i could have" over & over until it becomes
"cut in half cut in half." yesterday, 
we thought we uncovered it. we thought we were
innocent as ducklings. we laughed in a circle
as if there were a may pole. but, then,
a flicker. the shift of a star. a planet
coveting another's face. then it was gone. i want
a bell jar big enough to fit me under.
somewhere the world is at least a surface away.
there are not enough permissioned barriers
& far too many containers. i put my socks 
in a ziplock bag before i leave. what we're doing
is topic secret. potentially contagious. 
i tell my lover's i am a toy maker. 
when they ask "what kind?" 
i never know what to lie. 

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