The Iowa Review

Gravity Pick Lottery Machine

Maybe you are giving me spinal meningitis right now
right now! it hurts! You may be giving it to me—
but I cannot make myself care because the twisting of my
spine around yours like the rod of Asclepius is hot,
like when you told me about trichinosis and said
every muscle inside me is engraved with uncountable
worms from undercooked pork and I replied Are you giving
me spinal meningitis that you caught from your sick friend
in Mexico?
and you are saying He and I never shared food or
drink except for that one time so maybe?
You may be giving it to      me—
now the sky is wide open and guinea-worm stars burst from the
purple wound above us and my legs are wrapped around you       like a
caduceus: we are circumgyrating. We are a gimble, we are a       roll axis
of possible disease, underprepared, spinning germs together           in a cosmic
lottery machine—
we are mouth-kissing filter-feeders sucking the sand from           each other's backs.
We are lumbar punctures, sticking each other with                       thick wide hollow
medical paraphernalia. We are diagnosing the problem. You may      be giving it to me—
me, I accept this spinning and torque, I believe in the possibility of      all future
tenses when I eat rare-ish meat. Me, I love consequences,      evidence
smeared all over the agar disk, and so when I kiss you I am filled
with the heat of Linnaean taxonomy, bacilli, and vermes:
Lover, I am filled with risk.

The Iowa Review

Founded in 1970 and edited by faculty, students, and staff from the renowned writing and literature programs at the University of Iowa, The Iowa Review takes advantage of this rich environment for literary collaboration to create a worldwide conversation among those who read and write contemporary literature.
     They publish a wide range of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, translations, photography, and work in emerging forms by both established and emerging writers. Work from their pages has been consistently selected to appear in the anthologies Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.

The Iowa Review online


Julia Whicker is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop where she won both the Capote Fellowship and the Teaching-Writing Fellowship. She's had her work published in the Iowa Review, Word Riot, and The Millions, among others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first novel, Wonderblood, is forthcoming this spring from St. Martin's Press and Random House Canada. She lives with her husband and daughter in State College, Pennsylvania.

"Gravity Pick Lottery Machine" originally appeared in The Iowa Review Volume 43, Issue 2 (2013).

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on December 20, 2017

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