Where the Rib Takes Root

                  I return to the place where I was first undone.

For years I’ve carried this stone baby

                   behind the locked nest of my pubic bone.

Little prisoner, calcified twin

                   I could not birth

no matter how hard I tried

                   to pretend I didn’t winter it

in its little box, brute season

                   after brute season. When I was old enough

to be daughter I wrenched free

                   of my mother’s hips and fled across

the back of another set of days. This skull

                   between my thighs I could not

be rid of. Womb’s snowmelt

                   unyoking every house I thrashed to

and tried to plant a prairie in.

                   I’ve spit on my mothers’ names

blamed them for what hands did to us

                   rocked and rocked in this umbilicus

of galvanized steel and mud, palms

                   snowing open. There was so much I could

not forgive my mother for. This cursed life. This anger

                   I didn’t know what to do with.

How we didn’t know how to be mothered.

                   Men devour the ash they root inside women.

And now when I come home

                   crawling across the wind, I drag my breasts

over these sharpened antlers, this hush

                   of night’s indigo draping round my shoulders.

Baby. Baby. In the cold my mother’s voice

                   tells me through the snake in the story

you are not a bad woman. Arsenic

                   lives at the core of knowledge

and if you eat it slowly over years

                   you can build strength enough for anything.

I’ve sucked these seeds I stole from beneath

                   the ground, remembered how to be strong,

daughter cell after daughter cell pounding

                   this queer heart of mine into its blue shape.

The deer here hung

                   from floorboards and drained for three days

until they’re emptied enough to walk free.

                  In the darkroom under the house

among the wet red negatives I cradle

                   my mother between my thighs

to help us give birth.

                   Massage the c-section scar where I was made

with such violence from her body.

                   Tell her there is no shame. Tell her

we can be daughters again together.

                   Headwatered in these bodies of ours.

Something blaspheming through us

                  with a howl of such practiced thirst.


Kelly Weber is the author of the forthcoming chapbook The Dodo Heart Museum: A Fabulist Curiosity Cabinet (Dancing Girl Press, 2020), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Cream City Review, Permafrost, Ruminate, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Frontier Chapbook Prize and Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize and has been longlisted for the [PANK] Book Contest, and her work has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University. More of her work can be found at kellymweber.com.