I was pretty but not too pretty.


I kept my head down to count


sidewalk cracks, perpetually nodding.


Agreeable, always. A no that sighed


to yes. Easy to bend. The shock


when I emerged year after year,


trying to choose a direction,


following a simulacrum of who


I could be. I shuddered off my petals.


I grew all stamen, all unfruitful sex.

Alyse Bensel’s poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Zone 3, Quarterly West, New South, Bone Bouquet, and elsewhere. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks Not of Their Own Making (dancing girl press) and Shift (Plan B Press) and serves as the Book Reviews Editor at The Los Angeles Review. A PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Kansas, she lives in Lawrence.