for Ariel

by Brandon Stettenbenz

The term used in consultation

Was shaving

A simple, painless

Everyday act

Substituted for the more

Accurate, literal verb grinding

A process more akin

To body work

Steel angles ground down

Dense material removed,

In her case the front edge

Of recently spread hips,

To supply clay,

Mortar for askew

Vertebrae spiraled

Like a crankshaft


Not a cosmetic procedure,

Potentially deadly

And therefore unlike

Plastering together

Ancient bones—

This fusing of living tissue

Afterward to be supported

By titanium, stronger than

The rebar skeletons

Of buildings several

Hundred times taller

Than this blossoming woman


An art, reinvented

With each procedure,

Each time alien fingers

More invasive than a lover’s

Delve into movement, dexterity,

Muscle memory, compacted cords—

An electric conduit of data

Supporting creation, warmth, expression

Connecting consciousness

To worldly mystery

To the ecstasy of experience—

A child without a choice

Made to trust her fate

Without giving trust

To a man in white

With stranger’s eyes