Southern Illinois University Carbondale Poetry Prize, 2016

Researchers Find the Father's DNA Stays in the Brains of Impregnated Women, Even Those Who Don't Carry to Term

by Meghann Plunkett

At the store they don’t have oranges
so I scoff loudly, yes, dig my thumb into
one perfect tomato. The spite is not mine

and I can tell it’s him,  when I’m at the bar
my eyes slope up and down the skinny girl.
I imagine taking her home, yes, pushing her face
away as I fuck her. My hands feel

too large, so empty. And what about
the salt grinding my teeth flat? A spoonful
each morning, hungry for something
bitter. Look

at him, nested inside my newfound fear
of heights. That one wire-hair growing
from the bone of my chin. A chimerism
boiling my irises darker into his hazel
flecked daggering. Yes, I did not

ask for this: a hollow booming from the core
of me; loss stinking of breastmilk; swelling awake
each morning, my hands wrapped around my own throat.

How can I forget this small mite sleeping
through me? Tree knots rotting soft
through my temples. How do I knock the neon
out of that night? How can I forgive the girl
who said yes? Goddamn it, I said yes.

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