The Wound

Ann Killough

She took up the metaphor of the wound as if it were a newborn baby with something terribly wrong with its spine.

She knew it was her own baby and yet manifestly planetary, with referents drifting above it like dust from an invisible landscape.

She knew the most important thing about the metaphor of the wound was that it never healed.

And that it seemed to function as some sort of insertion into the argument, perhaps into every argument, as the precious unknown of the major premise of perhaps every argument.

Like a kind of Christ Child of every argument.

As though every argument were a stable full of domestic animals chewing their preordained fodder intersected by a series of shepherds and kings arranging themselves in relation to an almost completely swaddled but infinite metaphor.


Unspeakable opening.


So now it seemed maybe there was actually a body of metaphors almost indistinguishable from each other.

The metaphor of the wound and the metaphor of the unspeakable opening and the metaphor of the inevitable sacrifice, for example, that she would prefer not to touch even with theological gloves on, a figurative body of terrible relatives in which each organ cooperated in keeping the enormous tumor of understanding in place that grew from the metaphorical body like an obscene appendage.

The body politic, for example.

The metaphor of the body politic itself being cruelly deceptive except that there was no way of really knowing that.

She was beginning to feel trapped.

She ran down the street of her poem yelling with metaphors flying out behind her like flames.

With metaphors crawling out of her chest and mouth like gigantic beetles, and out of her one good eye.


When the mob gathered and wrestled her to the ground she just kept yelling and pointing at visible articles of metaphor. The metaphor of the mob, for example, and of the ground, which was so repulsively comforting. She knew that the metaphor of the wound was still safe in her poem, which was turning out to be a manger like all the others.

As though the poem had begun to cooperate with the authorities behind her back, which it undoubtedly had.

Ann Killough's
work has appeared in Fence, Field, Mudfish, Poetry Ireland, Salamander, Sentence and elsewhere. Her chapbook Sinners in the Hands: Selections from the Catalog received the 2003 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press. Her Kinereth Gensler Award winning manuscript, Beloved Idea, has just been published by Alice James Books. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she is one of the coordinators of the Brookline Poetry Series as well as of the Mouthful Reading Series in Cambridge.