Stevie Edwards

What Is Left to Say about the Body

“To be human we need to experience the end of the world.”          —Hélène Cixous

Hottest breath of July and the phone is ringing.
It’s a landline. I am alive
in another decade and about to find out

that he is not. That he will be the first
not living body I have pressed my mouth
against. Who dies of asthma

anymore? The answer is a body
named Charles that went by Chad.
A saxophone with no wind in it.

At a movie date, Save the Last Dance,
he reached for his inhaler after reaching
up my shirt for the first time. After,

I stood before my bedroom mirror
shirtless, searching the small mounds
for evidence of transformation.

When his mother found his body
on the floor, his hand was not holding
the inhaler but cupping the air around it.

No, that’s inaccurate, the air was
cupping his skin. The air was a heavy
blanket the whole town kept trying

to peel off all night. He could only
be touched and did nothing to the world
after that. He had no verb left.

Stevie Edwards is the author of Humanly and Good Grief. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Cornell University and is a PhD candidate at University of North Texas. She edits for Muzzle Magazine and YesYes Books.