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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 5, 2018.
About this Poem 

“At the 2018 Kundiman retreat, Sun Yung Shin led an exercise using Bhanu Kapil’s ‘Humanimal [I want to make a dark mirror out of writing].’ After that, it seemed I could only write variations of this one poem, about the (in)congruencies of which stories we tell or don’t tell or want to tell ourselves and each other. I have spent a lifetime studying forgiveness and am constantly humbled by how complicated, impossible, and necessary it is to every memory.”
—Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

In the Animal Garden of My Body


Ask me again how the story should go. How much the underbelly of my garden held to bring forth spring, how much hunger I had to devour to get the sweetness I wanted from it. Did this devouring frighten you? I frightened myself in how much I promised to tell you if you asked me again about the water the water the water. What errors I made calculating the downward trajectory of memory rattling loose in the inhale, sharp in the shoulder blades exhaling like wings or whales or swizzles of light. Ask me again what I offered as a sacrifice to the rooster crowing his betrayal of morning. Forgiveness, what a sharp blade I press my body hard against.

Copyright © 2018 by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 5, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry.