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he exited my body and immediately knew
what he wanted to do. one nipple cracked and bled.
the other became tender as sunburn.
he took hour-long breaks,
but it felt constant to me. in the hospital,
lactation specialists hovered, offered nipple protectors,
hydrogel pads, recommended formula supplements, rest
for my damaged breast. i slathered on wool wax,
ruined shirts with nipple-range
grease spots.

months later, when skin began to heal, his mouth
became a strange tickle.

once in those early months, i took a plane cross country
and stowed my pump in checked baggage. before the flight was done,
my breasts had become baseballs,
ached like they might explode. i remember pained small talk
with the taxi driver en route to the hotel, squelching tears
during check in.

somewhere around six months, he started to toy with me,
pulling and turning one nipple while he sucked the other.

at eight months, he screamed at the ensconcing
of the nursing cover. i became a reluctant
exhibitionist. men in restaurants stared. a woman
glared unabashedly. now he’s almost three.
i unsnap my bra, push him on, and try not to see myself
from others’ eyes. to some, i’m all body,
exactly what i never wanted to be.

he strokes my unused breast like a lover,
kneads my belly contemplatively.
his fingers search out the left side’s mole,
which he rubs like a rabbit’s foot.

sometimes i try to stop him. others, i wonder
if i’ll ever be loved this much again.


“Beholden” was first published in Bared: An Anthology on Bras and Breasts (Les Femmes Folles Books 2017).


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sometimes it snows in the mountains
although the valley stays dry, so you awake
and, driving wherever you have to go, see
blankets of snow in the foothills coating clearcut patches
between tall evergreens. the snow–alternating with stands
of mostly bare trees–makes a quilt that eases the eye.
i had almost the same feeling tonight
soaking up pink-orange sunset that had been enhanced,
i could see from the thick haze surrounding it,
by refinery smoke. even rain-filled tractor tracks
striping sky across green field gravitate my eyes.
i feel sorry for myself sometimes, compelled not just
to love the world but to admire the damage. once
i dreamed i saw earth from afar, and, in places where blue
ocean should’ve been, there was a deep earthy brown
instead. in bewilderment and panic, i could only repeat
but that’s beautiful too. and it was.


“damage” was first published in Olympia’s Works in Progress newspaper.

Interior Architecture

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It’s almost meaningless to say the house was bulldozed,
that house with its pale yellow clapboard exterior, deceptive somehow.
White shutters with red shapes, rotting window boxes.
It was a place that a child could not invite friends to,
it was a prison of artificial walls, the stacks of newspapers, old mail, the boxes
of who knows what, the careful stepping of the child through those rooms.
The child didn’t notice the careful steps, how they became part of her.
This is not surprising, this is how learning happens, without noticing.
The crowding happens that way too, slowly. It feels worse
when someone else sees it, like the man fixing the furnace
looking at the girl, now ten, and she at him, wordlessly.
And she imagined pity, but those were her own thoughts talking.
What passed between them was clear-eyed, steady, indecipherable.

It was decades later that the house was bulldozed
by the buyer of the land, after the tax foreclosure. There are likely records
to prove it, permits and the bills of a contractor, filed somewhere.
One can even drive by where the house used to be and see a better house,
the yard almost filled with its oversized footprint. It’s nicer,
the father of the little girl says to his grown up daughter,
and the pleasure that tinges his sentence estranges her.

But the house is inside the child and the grown up woman. She sits in the study
of her new house in another state and feels the old house in her.
Looking out the window at night, the street light a few yards off
evokes it, the dirt driveway with a long, narrow swath of yard on the other side.
She remembers her mother telling her about watching the bulldozer, how the new owner
threatened to call the police if she touched her piles of stuff, now littering the yard,
while neighbors sifted. The daughter knows her own stuff was in there too and that all of this is true,
but the house still frames her eyes, those crumbling shutters.
Looking out of her window at night, she feels herself within it.
She still walks carefully, without thinking about it.
What is it that loss takes from us?


“Interior Architecture” was first published in Altered Scale.


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if i said bluebirds and steller’s jays are not really blue,
that blueness is a trick their feathers are engineered
to reflect, would this mean anything
to you? as if other blueness were a state of being– Read More


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what kind of memory does the band-tailed
pigeon have that it fears us
because, years ago, we hunted it?
great blue herons were also hunted,
but they look you in the eye,– Read More


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athlete’s foot! the dermatologist pronounces
when I show him my dry flaky heel and describe
the little red bumps that sometimes surface
along the rim.  when i protest that it’s lasted– Read More