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Category archive for: Susannah Nevison

Pre-Op Portrait with a Colony of Bats

They held the mask

over your mouth, pumped you

full of forgetting: the sky

fashioned a noose and hanged

herself, purpling and gasping—

slackening, she let loose

her dusky children, shook them

from their clustered lung of sleep,

spit them like broken teeth—their bodies

swarmed your eyes, wings thin as any

eyelid—and you—you got it wrong—

the owls never came—

from TeratologyFind it in the Library

Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

To My Pre-Op Self as Marionette

I’ll feed you

a line—Maker, don’t

hesitate, just set that saw

to singing—so that he’ll cut

your legs free from the linden

block, and stain them, too, all

while cradling your voice, faint as a child’s

in the next room—and here, I’ll feed you

another line—until you say yes,

to a name or yes, please

to his naming—and although you

are not his daughter you are born

by his hand, you answer

the name he cuts free in your mouth—

Molly and Cindy and Christy and Sam—

yes, you answer all the same—

from TeratologyFind it in the Library

Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Bestiary

As in all good stories, you walked

into the wolf ’s mouth and you were born:

when they found you, you had wrapped

yourself in the hide. You thought, everyone forgets

the skin is the body’s biggest organ. You thought,

one heart can house another. And so you stood

in a body, and you called the body yours:

no one remembered your family. No one

had heard of your town. You walked

into the wolf ’s mouth and you were lost:

as in all good stories, they claimed

you for their own.

from TeratologyFind it in the Library

Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Snow, Luminous

As if the snow

and all it tries to hide

weren’t born of want too.

At the edge of the wood,

at the edge of one cold wound,

coyotes call their own.

Strange mouths wanting still,

a rabbit escapes beyond

teeth and endings.

Hunger like this feeds

on possibility. Your shadow

on snow is enough.

from TeratologyFind it in the Library

Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

My Father Dreams of Horses

If your daughter is born

and her legs aren’t made

for standing—if her feet

are painted hooves, if her legs

aren’t made—if your daughter

is a wooden toy you dance

over a still field—if you must make

her limbs—if you carry her

to the river but the river

is made of horses—if you ride

into the forest—if flames—

if your daughater is made

like you, is built to burn—

if you wade into the horses—

if flames—if you cannot keep

her from burning—if she will not

keep—if the horses burn—

if your daughter is born—

from TeratologyFind it in the Library

Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Preparing the Animal

I’ve been watching your hands

for weeks, watching the rain gather

its woolen shawl around the house,

while you sharpen tools, lay them out

and show me—gut hook, drop point, skinner, priest

what they can do, test each honed blade,

run the edge above your arm, close to skin,

just close enough that tiny hairs bend or fall.

When I was a girl, a boy showed me a knife

of steel I couldn’t believe, though he insisted

it was real, dared me to touch it.

I pressed my thumb to check its sharpness, certain

it was fake. I bled. The cut and sting

fine as the stream of water

he then held my hand in, so cold

it made me ache. What are we but sinew

and synapse, a system’s grim accumulation,

but softer? Soon, you will slit

the belly, you will enter with cupped hands

to loose the windpipe and split

breastbone, the structure falling

around the heart’s muscled knot. I know

you will work quickly, not to staunch the wound

but to bleed the body, to keep the meat, the hide,

will lay the body out, bless the knives—you, who cup my face

gently, who drag your fingers

through my hair, until I bend

or fall beside you.

from TeratologyFind it in the Library

Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.