Maggie Ethridge

swamp agony, slip coil

gut juice hisses bright-hot, furious.
a wounding brand on the tissues,

tamped in black and what they call
chocolate cysts. so bizarre,

the name conjured for blood boils:
like a Halloween candy.

i am dropped into chuckling oil
slapping hot against my thighs,

abdominal cavity, the slow dip
where my Doctor Sir took me
with his long tapered fingers and shook!
shook me until the bungles fell out,

each one dried and warped like a dead

worm in the sun.

after the closing knit, small spiders

began their work: sewing, sewing me shut.
gaping mouth, sewn shut.
folliculating ovary, sewn shut.
the small sweet water chute of impregnation—
oh of course sewn shut. how tiresome,

all this false work, this dark stewing.

i am stuffed with enclosures and pins.
a hex doll, my smile tapers to the back
of my head, where you cannot see me crying.

dame spider, i would put your black nodding
head between my forefinger and thumb

if i could, and squeeze-pop you open. all my unused disease
running out of your fangy mouth, your twiny barbed
feet, snagging like thorns against the linen pillows
of my intestines. they run for miles in loops
the size of a small stadium floor, or the ice rink

gouged with pickaxe blades and merry white skates.

small wars i lose in the a.m. rivulets of agony
make their impassive way up the stair of spine.
sleep, sleep… calls from its downy bed, mouth

full of cotton, eyes dreamed full, loose red mouth

slightly agape in releases. i refuse to long

for what i cannot have. my whole life

can be turned inside out, the guts,

ovary, vaginal lining, making clear the vicious
nature of life— the smile, grin, joking head, nodding
breasts, easy hands all tucked inside, hidden

in their generosity and stubborn optimism, stupid
functionality: work, mommy, work, study, think,
think, think.

“I live in San Diego, CA with my children Lola and Dakota, two dogs and one cat. While writing my second novel and poetry, I teach preschool, take a college class at night, and have an editorial internship for Dr. Robert Epstein, former editor for Psychology Today and currently working for Scientific Mind. I live for my children, literature, art, music, cinema, love, learning, traveling, and the secret world of poetry.” E-mail: beezus74[at]hotmail.com

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