Kafka and me…at the Bikini Contest

first, he corrects the misnomer–

“Body image contest!”

Still, sly words written on the human body

Numbers, he corrects again

Pointing to the charcoal digits written

on their extremities

So close to the branding iron or…

The shadow of all his gone siblings

Fall ash across our faces

his once-alive sisters would have had 

A string of dark

Numbers tattooed on young skin

Which is how he got here in the first place–

I remind him of my own

Memories from The Penal Colony

How do you

“Be just”

Without piercing 

The heart of every man?

I ask. Brush his beautiful dark

Hair back

How young you look, darling

He flinches as we almost touch

Ghosts at the bikini contest