Hannah Dow


After Fountain of Milk Spreading Itself Uselessly on Three Shoes by Salvador Dalí

Plump and improbable
as honeydew melons, such breasts,
in real life, would topple the spire-waisted
girl beneath. As I consider

my own and refuse to make of them
some banal comparison to fruit,
I acknowledge Dalí wasn’t after
real life, and in telling myself this

realize I have just exonerated every man
equally undeserving of such forgiveness—
forgiveness being the lie I grant
when it is easier than recalling

that every man who has ever seen
my breasts has also seen,
felt, kissed, palmed
more than what his average hands

could hold. Every time I undress
before my lover, though he holds me
love-frozen in his eyes, I turn away
so as not to remind him.


Sometimes I press my ear
against a wall to seek a hum
one might otherwise mistake

for electricity: the yellowjackets
that made an interstitial hive of my childhood
bedroom. Sometimes they tiptoed

through the sockets, lent a pulse
to my sleepless nights. I was afraid, yes,
of everything, and a life without their poison

was my never have I ever. I learned
to paralyze my breath
and trick myself into believing

that a yellowjacket was just another
lonely child in a raincoat
walking herself to the bus stop,

abuzz in that flight between day and night,
night and day on restless wings.

Hannah Dow is the author of ROSARIUM (Acre Books). Her poems have recently appeared in Shenandoah, Image, The Southern Review, Pleiades, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. She received the Cream City Review Summer Prize in Poetry, selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Hannah is an Assistant Professor of English and creative writing at Missouri Southern State University.