Five Poems

Natasha Kochicheril Moni

human skull
Photo Credit: Matt MacDonald

We speak of water
for Ilya Kaminsky

and he raises

a glass, gestures

with his free

arm as if a water

fowl is being

raised from within

(this is California, Southern)

You must have water

I am filled         I might tell

him of the many

nights I have been dreaming

of Fabergé      how dancing

on eggs    in dream        is more

like floating

how floating     is more

like eating


plucking          feather after (invisible)

feather          from one’s throat

irritates          the esophagus

The truth is

I have been     speaking

to another

who knows     about double

osmosis          He tells me     what

becomes          of fluids

before preserving         before the viewing

about water               after water

where drains                 in morgues


how California            is

the great recycler

The truth is       I don’t know this       yet

The truth is       I am not

thirsty             The truth is


like separating egg             from apricot


The Cardiologist, his daughter cradle a model

skull—they’ve left hearts behind years ago for osteo-

cytes, sutures: sagittal, coronal—

sockets whose purpose is stationary

grace, how to hold what fills

how to balance what adheres.

The Cardiologist, his daughter love to learn

the language of mater: dura,

arachnoid, pia—whisper

the sound CSF

would make if it were

external, how not

rapid but river

one flow sub-



When I Approach my Advisor for Advice on How to Move Forward With Greater Ease After a Bumpy Start of Going Premed in My Thirties, He Performs a Well-Rehearsed Soliloquy

Every year there are those who fall.
He draws me a curve—

epinephrine on the x, performance on the y.
A straight line to the top where some—

he references me—go over.
I imagine the remains,

the class of forty trimmed
extra length in the row below

the Periodic Table, the ease with which
legs stretch in the presence of space.

He has never performed surgery,
never cleaved anything but a hypothetical

student from the breast of Postbacc
status, never attended

himself, but he is an expert
of probability. Vex one student

and observe wilt under scrutiny.
Take three quizzes and don’t call me.

I would bottle it if I could—he speaks
of success, those shy of adrenaline

junkies—I would be rich.
I think of my father with only three

dollars upon immigrating. Practicing in his native
country, the requirement of redoing his residency—

the subsequent years of specializing, cardiology.
My father thinks of me, my advisor thinks.


The Cardiologist’s daughter is concerned

with needles, the thought of what keeps

blood fixed—what accounts
for system failure, a heart spilling—

what blurs on screen
a mitral valve prolapsing.

She learns to mind
adjusts to right side

reduces intake of sugar
caffeine. The cardiologist’s daughter

feels so much, removes
tags from sweaters

will not stand anything approaching
her throat—remembers the time

when D. slapped a bee clear
into her back—the sting

she had never felt
before, nothing

like needle, more like twinge.
The instructor not believing

her calmness, taking
ten minutes to notice

stinger through flesh.
The Cardiologist’s daughter

is complicated. She has a thing
for discovery, keeps a collection

including the bear
claw, countless bones,

something potentially human.
She would have the complete

skeleton, if she could afford—
She has made peace

with weird, has a pink
dot on her i.d., sees

herself on that metal
table while waiting

at checkouts—those tabloids—
so less appealing. Called

morbid, she cannot help
a family that served

obituaries with cornflakes
longer than she has been drinking

her coffee near black.
She fills herself with herself

as a baker would install a pie
with nectarine—there are places

where the color blurs and she forgets
outer for inner. They call

her edgy and she says I am
regardless, concentrated with core.


On an Interview to Rent Space from a Chiropractor,
I Discover a Mutual Admiration for Handling Skulls
for the Benson family

He says I’ll just be
a minute and disappears beyond
the door marked Employees Only.
In the room labeled A, I turn
to the erase board that spells
the definition of something kinetic,
as the doctor returns.

His fingers lace
a human skull. Can’t get these
anymore, he claims and what
others leave, I seize.

How did you? I ask and he tells me
A religious sect in India had no problem
selling these; only problem was people left
their bodies more quickly.

I trace the parietal
suture below my finger. How young, I think
and he responds how neatly ossified, how not old and I try
not to think of family and I think of family as I speak
the tongue of sutures, what seals
bone to bone what breathes if given

He tells me
of his daughter as he wings
open the gates of the teeth, his daughter
pre-med for dentistry, she will inherit
this. It will be necessary.

We close with the orbits—a simple communion, we sip
from their thinness, tip the skull to locate light.

pencilNatasha Kochicheril Moni, a naturopathic medical student, writes and resides in the Pacific Northwest. Her first full-length collection, The Cardiologist’s Daughter, is forthcoming from Two Sylvias Press this Fall 2014. For more information regarding her work or upcoming readings, please visit her website. Email: natashamoni[at]

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