Kathryn Smith


I scramble the egg
until it does not resemble
egg—no longer the globe

a body bore into
the world for a purpose
entirely other. First I scraped

the blood-knot
from the albumen—trace
of its potential, of what

reminds me of me,
life force hidden
in the viscous clot.

When the speckled hen
grew listless and drew her head
to her puffed chest,

I quarantined her
in a crate lined with soft
clean shavings

where she could suffer alone.
Two days later, when I entered
the dark garage,

her carcass, as she stiffened,
had pushed through the crate’s
makeshift door

as though she’d tried for escape.
Her eyelids made a final
translucent seal.

It was like
scooping a dead wasp
from a windowsill, or

freeing a bloodied mouse
from a sprung trap
as I lifted her body

into a plastic garbage sack
and placed it
in the trash: So much

for that one. Not loss
exactly, but more notice
than I give the ova that slip

unceremoniously from
my body when the moon
shifts from sliver

to smudge, simply
doing away
with what there’s nothing

to be done with. I
have seen the self’s
raw resemblance

wriggling with need
in dreams
where she’s

a misplaced parcel,
wrapped and left
in a bureau drawer.

She’s large-headed
and adult-voiced,
and when

I wake, it’s with
such relief to be
alone with morning, which

demands enough,
the way it
repeats itself, its hunger.


And the Lord said let ants be fed
from the egg-caps of walking stick
insects that hatch disguised as ants.
Let impostors pass undetected
from a subterranean nest. Let fur-bound
beasts carry exoskeletal beasts from one
hinged continent to another, and let land-
bridges break. Let humans break land
and build bridges from elements dug
from the land. Let rats unhinge ribs
from spines and climb through pipes
invented by humans to keep our
shit and nakedness away from
the shit and nakedness of rats.
Let humans set poisoned traps.
And thus I tell you: an erroneous vision
of heaven and hell shall come to you
in books, and this will divide you.
Some will say it’s possible
for a child to die and come back
from death having seen the realm
of God. But some will say what
does it matter when earth is a lonely
chasm where children die unnoticed as
we sharpen our knives and whiten
our teeth and tighten our skin and
implore our screens to refresh.

Kathryn Smith’s first poetry collection is BOOK OF EXODUS. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, The Collagist, Bellingham Review, Redivider, Carve Magazine, and elsewhere.