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About this poet

Jan Beatty is the author of The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I'll Write the Girl

The thing I'll never write is the green leaf
with its rubbery-hard veins, I'll never
write the structure exposed, instead

I'll write the girl picking it up, green leaf,
her pudgy hand & her wanting it, that's it,
because she knows the sky is full

of stumbling ghosts, & she's back in the cold
room, back on the dark floor, & along
so much sky, what does one person do?

She says, bring it to me & devours,
hungry girl, breaks it open, tastes
the day's first plasma of leaf, first blood

of green on her city street, she takes it
to her like morning's first kill, &
owns it, stem to point,

& knows her life will always
be this biting open one thing
to leave another, that the only

way she'll get anything is
with this tiny hammer
in her animal brain

saying: mine,
& again,
& now.

From Red Sugar by Jan Beatty. Copyright © 2008 by Jan Beatty. Published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Red Sugar by Jan Beatty. Copyright © 2008 by Jan Beatty. Published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty is the author of The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

by this poet

poem

                       Banff, Alberta

The mother elk and 2 babies are sniffing
the metal handle of the bear-proof trash bin.
I remember the instructions for city people:
3 football fields of space between you &
the elk if their babies are with them.

I’m backing

poem
I went looking for the body.

The apple, tree, the river.
Gliding voice, curve of arm,
pearly blue uterus.

Muscled calf, the neptune green
eye, blood with the same
taste as mine.

Why do I write my report this way?
An adopted child needs to find a face.

What does a real mother's body look like?
River,
poem
The torso facing east, the head nearly west,
as if she couldn't take in the sight of her
own skin and its failings, its parts spilling
onto other parts. She thought:
Nothing for once.
Too tired for fantasy.
If a body can be seen as itself and loved,
it's a wonderful thing. If the thing-ness
of the body is all,