Trichotillomania by Ben Togut

after Maggie Nelson


I want to steal your words,

scrape color from iris,


salvage driftwood from stagnant brook. Perhaps

it can be distilled into an obsession, one with a color,


the warped indigo underscoring my dreams. Perhaps

it is not evident in my fixation with you,


for I am surely no Salieri, nor you Mozart. Perhaps

it is glaring in its subtlety,


manifesting itself in my overwhelming desire to pull


hair like wisps of spider’s lacework from my chin.


I must confess I do not know for whom I perform

this excavation of self; I have no lover to impress,

no suitor to groom for.


I think it is not an obsession but a yearning,

a want to fashion boy from man,


as if I was taming this feral heart. As if

I was extracting thorns from roses,


unable to exhume true beauty

without an ounce of pain.



Ben Togut is a junior at Columbia Preparatory School in New York City. He has attended The Iowa Young Writers Studio and The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, and has received national recognition from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.