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A Mélange of Poems Appearing in the Gender Issue:

December 20, 2011

At the diner on Main Street

That girl is a gymnast, he said.
And I asked: How do you know?—
He said he could tell
from the shape
of her body, the size
of her muscles, the way
she moved. I supposed, as I drank
my milk at the diner window,
that like knows like
and athlete to athlete, he saw
in her a kinship that he would
never find in me. I looked up
past the old, dingy windows
on Main Street. The skinny girl,
walking quickly, was gone.
And I felt every pound
of pregnancy on my body
like a deadening barbell
and I wondered if he would
reach for my hand.

—Lori D’Angelo

Anniversary

 

joy, rag-eyed, soft
as a morning egg,
and still the bottom
falls out of your heart
your thin feet
strange and muscular
turning towards one another
at strong angles

are they yours?
an old woman’s feet
her hands prostrate
over your words
and then again that viperous
joy, that molasses
shout, coming forth
face-up, glowingly
unalarmed

so you grow old
so the new string hums
the same note as the old
all’s well, all’s well
but then, everything’s changed

—Hannah Craig

Untitled (The first time …) from One Hundred Hungers

The first time her thick blood dampened the new moss of her body,

she opened a cloistered inner door to her mother.

Together they watched the alphabet of liquid spill out of her earth,

each cramped syllable spreading into an idiom, a dark and long language.

Her mother taught her to push the storm back

into the throne of her swelling, and later, in the dark,

she tasted the spoil of red on the tip of her finger.

Please stop, she said to the ceremonial force of this cyclamen twirling up

and inverting her center, but each month her insides descended in diamonds

and dashes. A salt-cycle of ornamented sheets and brief regeneration.

Lauren Camp

three seeds

I waited for the rain her hair river

crows on my body I drink a cloud of hair

handmade in the bed an ocean

out of wedlock our bodies do not break

your neck slit gold from each other

and open

but I once knew who

fear a world where we love in the limb

was called my reflection down-

minted stream.  Handmade, story

I bring out a tree

will cleanse your breath,

again, having

washed myself too many

play the veena if you river again

made of eucalyptus trees.  Think

the dirt may find a home

of the sky, his pronoun

no longer appeared, in flames

and the fish may rest

in graves my body

only a wall of cicadas,

with body to break

what if a lola sky no water can dose

Italicized words from Melissa Sipin, Claire Donato, Hari Malagayo Alluri, Rachelle Cruz, Todd Wellman, Tamiko Beyer, Paul Ocampo, Serena W. Lin & Bushra Rehman.

 

Ching-In Chen

Book of Nights

I

Open your book of nights,

unreadable and faded.

The sheets are damp,

your sleep bloated with rain

and the same dream, the one where

you are standing at the window

broken,

picking glass stars

from your wet mouth.

You’ve kept nothing of his

but the unbelieving children

and a faint memory

of shifting bones

But some nights,

the moon’s hard eye holds you

closer, tighter

than your body can bear.

II

He’s been warned

of her sharp white teeth,

the necklace of vertebrae kept

hidden among the underthings.

Her openmouthed kisses leave him raw,

his throat lined with salt.

She is too hungry to be trusted.

Tonight, while she sleeps,

he will fill his heart with stones,

drown it deep.

III

Sleep is not the forgetting it used to be.

You put the kettle on, wash your face,

watch fireflies crawl on the ceiling

till day breaks.

Love has locked you in this body,

fashioned your wings into tired hands

that fall open, suppliant,

on his chest

like dead spiders.

IV

Mine is a magician’s smile

styled with mirrors and smoke,

red wax scrawl, trick of the eye.

At night, when my skin is bare,

I am little more than a question.

I lay still, wait for the one who

will happen upon my true face.

When touched too gently, I say things

only trees understand.

Danielle Boodoo Fortune


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