Lisa Fay Coutley

Ode to Post-Partum 

Or to the girl who ate fruit with abandon.

Plum juice & peach pit, the necessary mess

& the fist of labor. To bear down one’s teeth


into bone & skin of all things living & live

for more than the girl, then, standing back

against a wall, waiting for you, woman new


with the baby on your arms. Oh, the weight

the waiting feel in their jaws, biting just hard

enough to keep from bleeding. Here, let me


say it simply: there was a small & silly girl

there the morning he was born, & once

he was she wasn’t. She took to sleeping


in the woodshed, in the shadowed branches,   

in the hum of hornets gutting green apples,  

& sometimes I could hear her hammering


C to D minor (quietly, so as not to wake him).

Chin to the windowsill, keeping rhythm with rain,

waiting for the bird that chose us both to swim


to surface   our water    frozen   halves 

            a white & narrow road   he enters

                      her   your world   cold of laughter.

Ode to Pain 

They call you knife in the voodoo doll,

sparkler burn, random rover, rattled

last nerve, say you migrate like butterflies 


& cluster by tide. Oh, circadian rhythm,

metronome of ache, you hang on like fear

of falling. Death’s oldest friend, preferring  


women to men, even Tyrannosaurus

Sue knew your sadness, your crystallized  

famine, your ancient, insatiable cells.


A sort of Ice Age, an x-ray, you are all

Egyptians mummified. You take & take 

so tuck our amulets into your bandages.


Safe passage, Dolor. Accept our promise

to constellate you, held forever by night.

Wrest our kisses bitter again & again & 


please, know we tried. Sometimes, through 

our necks & arms, our hearts would break 

you into cradle-able parts so warm, so bright. 

Lisa Fay Coutley

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Lisa Fay Coutley

 Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of In the Carnival of Breathing, winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), and Back-Talk, winner of the ROOMS Chapbook Contest (Articles Press, 2010). She is a PhD teaching fellow at the University of Utah, where she is poetry editor for Quarterly West. Her poems have been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize, and have appeared recently in Seneca Review, Third Coast, Ninth Letter, Best New Poets, and on Verse Daily