High Intensity Interval Training

Nina Puro


They’ve hung a mirror above the hotel bed we’ll


only sleep in. A heat mirage wavers in it

each time the train rattles by. We gather our skins’ sloughs,


drink from plastic cups wrapped in plastic. We look forward to going

back or we’re here to look for someone gone. Heads grin

from inside glowing boxes. They’re searching for a girl. They break


into other heads. What we do in hotel rooms exists

for only as long as our bodies fill the bed, before

more swim in. The way we fill & empty our

bodies changes over time— a slow spill. A brea 


backwards. How hands smuggle & muzzle through days.

What I spilled in & out of me to fill & empty I did in secret

yet in the telling there was a seizurean ostensible way

to sear it from me, as a limb. When other people heard me

as I did it, though, there was a horrible impropriety.


I used to check into hotels with another girl for the breakfast buffet

& the toilet. We would take turns going back & forth. Hands with light

shining through. Today, cops scroll through the woods behind the hotel for

the body of a girl. She was white so they’re making a fuss. In a thicket behind

the third hill back, there’s a hole filled with parts of a body but it’ll take

them three, four days. For years, I was only parts of my body. 


Or a hole, I want to say, but it wasn’t that hard, I know,

I know because I walk around in my body. I can stare up

at my body in the mirror & pray for a late check-out.

Hands two-stepping. Morning hands puffed to loaves.

Blessed are those that today go missing & those that get found.


Blessed are those who tremble in doorways like mirrors in silver, who

vomit up dinner, who walk across a long bridge for no reason

other than that is a cord stretched between

two needles stuck into rocks. I said hit me & got paid.


I no & meant it. I said we’re good & we weren’t

but we built walls around the idea like a heat mirage. Dropped hints

the way helicopters drop bodies into water. We can hi 


each other with our hands like a hole in water where a body

was because we don’t believe hands with nail-holes


mean anything. Can listen to the back & forth of the ai 


conditioner’s hum & the football players hitting each other back & forth

across a field on TV & the keening whistles back & forth in the hill 


from men wearing blue hats & rubber gloves. Hands in the bells of flowers

& throats. Blessed are those women who wear their names

stitched over their chests who answer to men, those women who don’t work


under their real name who answer to men. Blessed are the hands that drop

dollars into garters & those whose stomachs

drop like pennies into wells & those who drop the contents

of their stomachs into rivers. We can watch men’s flashlight sweep


back & forth on the wall above our bodies blue & white

like god. Like they’ve a divining rod of light that’ll

illuminate a body swelling with water

or shrinking from air. There could be a doe

eating goldenrod in that girl’s thicket. There could be beneath 


our narrow bed a skeleton. There could be beneath the bedrock

a river, cold & sweet. A river of milk or blood.

Laced with arsenic or veined with gold. My hands

as clumps of stitches over veins. Hands sheened

with grease & sugar. Blessed is the falling empire. Blessed are those that run

through the woods, & those that hide in the woods, & those that sweep 


food over scanners & into purses. Blessed those who peel back

the leaves over the face, those who drop

timesheets into time-clocks, those who drop pennies into water

& over eyes. Look how much time I’ve spent digging for a place to hide

food. Hands as corkscrews for night. Look how days roll


over. A leaf browns or greens, inverse processes back & forth

with water. Clumps of bodies weave on & off streets,

inverse processes with time. Blessed is the coal that’s left. Blessed those who sink

into barstools & TVs & bibles & sunsets &


beds. Our hands turn keys & steering wheels, turn into

kestrels & pickups & taproots. They clean bodies

& hotel rooms & pistols. Grasp at rain, hammer out


a new town, set it alight. We get to swipe cards back & forth

through machines for dinner or shoes.


We get to swipe cards in hotel mirrors to crush powder.



NINA PURO’s work can be found in Guernica, H_ngm_n, the PEN Poetry Series, and other places. A member of the Belladonna* Collaborative; the author of a chapbook, The Winter Palace (dancing girl press, 2015); and recipient of a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony, Nina cries and works in Brooklyn.