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Three from Jennier Givhan


Unstring the rutted dark remains—
smashed piñata corpse.
Rage is not blind.

I see this frenzied unbirth,
shattered tubes that bleed
while my stubborn heart drums on.

I’m the unlit wick—
an idle candle holder veiled nightly
shading fetid melons.

I carry an unholy siege of angry claws
that shred me loose in murky globs
of brick-worn blood.

I’m a pitted pumpkin rotting—
seeds baking in the oven left to burn
until cindered and thrown away.

The dogs are eating rotten apples fallen
from my backyard tree.

Ruinous shame
stones me,
a static mother-statue.

Childless, All These Years

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
        —Langston Hughes

The truth is, I’ve never miscarried more
than hope. Slippery in my arms. A slick eel.
My only deficiency? Letting go.
Mother-woman, I should have let hope soar!
A bird, a song—like blood—rupturing. A peel
of papaya skin. An open-hearted flow.
Instead, my energy festered in dull, slow-
footed occlusions: Spoke in a child’s cartwheel.
An empty, cracker-crumbed disposable drawer.
A too-often lonely, laundry room bore.

I have slid much too easily into sadness— 
and stayed. In the subtle, quiet trunk, I’ve lain, “cargo”
stamped on my breasts, back pressed against my heels.

I’m on my way to Phoenix—I’ve never been before.

Miscarriage Revisited

Years have held you, shapeless, to my gut.

My visceral vestige transformed into a cowry shell;
there your squat tentacles cling to the nacre,
ensconced in my smooth casing—a tough husk
meant to withstand even the parting of blackened seas.

Time crafts densely boned layers,
and memory wonders at its pearl.

My uterus feeds from the same lifeblood that sustains my heart:
only the one ever strong enough to keep you safe.

These years have made me a mermaid—
Your mythical creature. Your best thing.
Lyonnesse unexcavated.
And the wreck that was your mother rests at last.

The salt pressed to my skin nourishes you.
My tears fill your gills.

The blood that mocked your birth pumps furiously through my veins,
reclaiming your raspberry spirit.
Your life stains my cave wall. 

Motivation:are all part of a full-length collection I've written titled "Red Sun Mothers" which examines the mythos surrounding the barren and childless woman.

BIO: I am a Mexican-American poet who grew up in the Imperial Valley, a small, border community in the  Southern California desert. I earned my M.A. in English Literature at California State University Fullerton, where I was the recipient of the Graduate Equity Fellowship. My poems have appeared in Verdad, Dash, Caesura, Mom Writer's Literary Magazine, Third Wednesday, Cutthroat, Pinyon, Earth's Daughters, Rockhurst Review, Palabra, Prick of the Spindle, and Mothering Magazine, and I was the 2010 recipient of the Emerging Voices Fellowship in Poetry through PEN Center USA.

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Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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