poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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.

Report from the Skinhouse

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, chalkline, bloody cave?

I am replica of nothing.

birthmother, conjurer, boneshaker, witch,
let me smell your skin just once,
I'll give you your bloody daughter.

Copyright © 2001 by Jan Beatty. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2001 by Jan Beatty. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press. 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

My friend Lou
used to walk up to strangers
and tip them—no, really—
he'd cruise the South Side,
pick out the businessman on his way
to lunch, the slacker hanging
by the Beehive, the young girl
walking her dog, and he'd go up,
pull out a dollar and say,
Here's a tip

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,