New Beginnings – Rachel Bower

 

We are starting again

this wrinkly belly and me

learning how to walk again

and even how to talk

to strangers without

the shield of peach cheeks

and little legs.

 

We are tottering through the retail park

off kilter

but determined to find a latte

and drink it hot this time,

just this time,

even if the milk floods our shirt

even though we’re waddling a bit,

still bruised from birth

and we think of him safe

and scan the tarmac again

without anchor.

 

Our balance is off.

You shrivel in my hollow

as I try to unfurl

and wonder how to tilt on my feet.

 

Only eighteen minutes left

’til we see his starfish hands.

 

We wobble together and smile.

 

Rachel Bower photoRachel Bower is a poet and research fellow at the University of Leeds. Her pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published with Valley Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, which is out with Valley Press in November 2017. Her book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. Rachel’s poems have been published by Stand Magazine, BBC Radio, Now Then Magazine, Valley Press, Three Drops Press, The Stare’s Nest, Pankhearst and others, and she has had poems shortlisted for several prizes, including The London Magazine Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize 2016. She is also the founder of Verse Matters, a feminist arts collective in Sheffield.

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Taxonomy – Caitlin Johnson

 

Domain: Eukaryota

It’s not just the nucleus:

it’s the membrane-envelope

keeping us from oozing out;

it’s the matriarchal mitochondria

tracing us back before even Eve.

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Sometimes we forget

that we are animals, too-

we love to expunge

the evidence.

 

Phylum: Chordata

Musculature is not enough.

We need to grow a fucking backbone,

prove ourselves capable of contortions.

 

Class: Mammalia

We reject the reptilian brain.

We reject the scaled skin.

We reject the gills.

 

We demand the milk.

 

Order: Primates

Little fingers, little tails.

Eyes that seem to know.

& we hide in the trees.

 

Family: Hominidae

& what is so great

about the Great Apes?

The bonobos, the gorillas, the chimpanzees – sure.

But then comes the fourth.

 

Genus: Homo

Struggling to become upright/upstanding/upheavers.

Striding into the scrum.

Leaving antiquity, entering the man-made universe.

 

Species: H. sapiens

It’s not enough to conquer.

We must humiliate, as well:

subjugate, colonize, destroy.

The natural world?

No. The human one.

 

cj-bio-picCaitlin Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Narrative Northeast, Pembroke Magazine, Vagina: The Zine, and Wild Quarterly, among other outlets. A chapbook, Boomerang Girl, was published in 2015 by Tiger’s Eye Press, and a full-length collection, Gods in the Wilderness, was published in 2016 by Pink.Girl.Ink. Press.