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Love Song of the Disembodied Head in a Jar

ISSUE:  Winter 2022


Like the pirates and revolutionaries of legend, heads spiked
atop the great bridge spanning the great city, I am now a head
without a body. Maybe the body ran away while I was sleeping,
slamming headless into walls and doors. Maybe my body flew
away, flapping arms, liberated until the zap of telephone wires.

You love me even if I am nothing but a disembodied head in a jar. 
You take me everywhere, buying an extra ticket to the movies
and propping the jar on your lap so I can see the screen, hauling
me to our favorite pizza joint on the boardwalk for two slices 
on a paper plate, though I can no longer chew or swallow.
You yell at anyone who stares too long at my head, rotating
slowly in a soup of formaldehyde, and defiantly smooch the jar
in their presence. We hustle dollars at the county fair. The crowds
press close to shriek when I blink at them, to gape astonished
when I sing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, the bubbles rising
from my nose and mouth, my hair swaying like seaweed. 

You take care of me. You dump beard shampoo into my jar,
as if you were feeding fish. You read to me from bad novels,
and we snicker together. You leave me on your night table,
so my floating face is all you see when your alarm goes off
to wake you in the morning. Good morning, my love, you say.
But how can you love me? I am a disembodied head in a jar,
I cry, and my tears disappear in the soupy liquid where I live.

You are always patient when I ask. You explain, as if talking 
to a Pomeranian, that you loved me when my body was so wide 
I would snap wooden chairs in half by leaning back. You loved me 
when my body was so lean my skin would hang like wax dripping 
from a tall candle. You loved me when my body was so broad 
two satchels dangled from the rack of my shoulders as I bounded up 
the stairs of the train station to see you. You loved me when my body 
was so spindly the sheets in the hospital mummified me as if fresh from 
the sarcophagus. Now, you love me when my head swims laps all day,  
and you kiss my lips pressed up against the glass with a loud smack.

Today, my head sits in a jar atop the piano in the dining room, where
the poets eating arroz con pollo at our table can toast me with their wine,
where the washing machine repairman can tell us he had a cousin
like that, where I can warble my love song of the disembodied head
for you, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, the only song I can remember,
as you play along on the piano and my head turns slowly to the music.



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