Seven Things Inside The Body Can’t Be Helped

Heather Napualani Hodges
Begin with admission

I've loved most everything in my life

But so have you

We live in a world that means us harm
Sickness we never talk about

Mechanism that allows the gaze to

How a heart will fasten itself
to itself

how no one can tell


There's a saying that goes
Say it three times to make it true

Apparatus apparatus apparatus

A way to or towards distance
but through ritual

which makes it ok


you said to me once

How our hearts embolden
but do not cleave

At birth each of us is given three hearts

You will have to burn them all


Seven things inside the body
can't be helped

this was the first dread

In one version you inherit her hands
You have her eyes your father says

But we live in a world with no consolation
which means what rends you rends you

Rain coming down the valley like hair
A weather you can see before it touches

Light on the leaves of a tree that is gone

Your life will fill with images that fail
Your body will drag itself to the woods to die

In one version the valley is green and the people inside it are

In one version my mother is raped in a field
but she is a child

and I could not protect her

I looked for you
she tells me

I looked and looked
but you were not there

In one version my mother
turns banshee

her body walks home
and no one says a thing


A traumatized body

turns animal


In one version you are made almost entirely of salt


Dear person it's important to say real things

Nature is not kind or outside

it pulsed smally
like bees inside us

In the body is a bone the world keeps breaking

In this version your body is not your body
so even your loss

does not belong to you


I've loved most everything in my life

In the bestiary is a body like mine

sits there

In the bestiary is a body that looks like mine
but isn't.

Heather Napualani Hodges was born in Hawaii and lives in Portland, Oregon where she received her M.F.A. in poetry from Portland State University. She works with youth and freelances as a creative writing mentor/consultant for people of all ages. She’s passionate about finding ways to help others navigate the landscapes of loss and trauma and hopes to someday publish a book of poetry and an illustrated children’s book that look at how our bodies possess the tools to help us survive grief and create meaning.