Body Party City

By Isaiah Yonah Back-Gaal

Endings begin with a rumbling:
clap of thunder at the top
of the finale, creak and release 

of the bus as it rises from its bow,
first vibrations of the tornado 
siren. I am preparing for wild 

futures among rows of costume and chrome
shelving, preparing for holy 
rapture with a habit and a knot

of rosaries, for one last job
with an alias and hot red poison
lips. This pixie is cut

like a mother. I shake out the dark 
synthetic bangs, a pony, a bob. I could go 
blonde, leave strands of myself

like wheat, linger at the coffin
shaped nails, the falsies, long as tiny
windshield wipers, which sweep away dust

and rain and gasoline. Plastic stars
adorn the body, remain, when all else 
decomposes. I take after my mothers:

at the aging care center and the Advanced Auto 
Parts they are preparing each other’s bodies
for the road. Glittering steel

knees, oiled up joints. Pearls of lavender
for the dashboard, the nightstand. Endings demand 
preparation. When the last storm hit, 

the shelves were undressed
fast as a bed. At the end of the world,
who will I need

to be? The kind of doomsday
prepper who polishes cartons
of ammunition and dehydrated

milk deep in a nuclear bunker. The kind 
who laces shoes made for running,
keeps a duffel by the door: maps, 

iodine tablets, cans of food for the dog.
Who collects seeds from red 
ripe tomatoes and fig tree cuttings. Look:

my go bag holds emergency
lip stain and vinyl thigh highs, a practical gown, 
a knot of fake diamonds. I am preparing

for the car to finally stop running, for the rain
silver body to ruin itself. I am digging
holes in these loamy tracks with the spade 

of sharp-heeled shoes, to harvest
a red and familiar song. I am baking
in the wings. I am sticking glue 

to every part of me that wants more:
my temple, my nail bed, the line
at the base of my lashes. This shade

of lip is called I Dare You. Who am I not
to give? Flowers sip until their lips
close, even to hand-fed chips of ice. Dim 

the lights. I am preparing for beauty.

Headshot of Isaiah Yonah Back-Gaal

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Isaiah Yonah Back-Gaal is a queer poet, climate justice organizer, and drag performer. They are currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at The Ohio State University and Associate Managing Editor for The Journal. They are previously unpublished!

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