Celeste Lipkes

Examining a Phrenological Chart I Bought on eBay


Destructiveness is tucked behind the ear—
"like where you keep your ballpoint pen," you say.
I shut my eyes and trace the stained glass ceiling
of the skull.
                 It's like the third-grade game
with spinning desktop globes and jabbing hands.
"You'll end up living where your finger lands!"
Kat Stein would shout. Her braces flashed like guns.
She always got Hawaii.
                                  "Stop!" you say.
I open up my eyes. "Causality?"
We read the key aloud. "Causality:
this faculty allows for understanding
reasons behind events
                                    The cool kids peeked.
I know that now—that's why their fingers found
exotic, tropic islands every time,
while I was stuck with Laos or South Dakota.
"Laos sucks!" Kat yelled. I live in Boston now
and Kat is dead.
                        "My turn," you say. I nod.
You land on Memory. We go to bed.
"If only it were real," I say. "The chart."
"The body's not an open book," you say.
"Phrenology's too obvious."
                                        Kat called
me up two weeks before she passed away.
"It's just this thing we have to do," she said,
"call everyone we've hurt and say we're sorry."
The stomach cancer had metastasized.
I hung up quick.
                       "Good night," you say. We kiss.
I map your hot, white scalp with trembling hands—
Benevolence, Constructiveness, and Hope
all disappear beneath my fingertips.