The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: You Should Feel Bad by Laura Cresté


This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from You Should Feel Bad by Laura Cresté, released by Poetry Society of America in 2020. 

An Incomplete List of What I Can’t Tell You

Why live oaks aren’t just called oaks,
and whether all moths splay their wings open at rest,

or some hold them closed like crossed legs.
Whether nonplussed is surprise or its absence.

How to make a fire. Why we say ripped to describe a body
that’s muscled and whole. Whether to believe those who say

they’ve seen an eastern cougar upstate, though scientists know
they’re extinct. Why it was a ghost cat before it even died.

What I said to my dead grandmother in the dream, when she strode
through the door on Thanksgiving and asked for a plate.

I was worried she wouldn’t be able to eat and would be embarrassed.
How she said to me you were wrong, heaven is real. What I’d feel if I could
       believe it.

What it means that my grandfather hunted deer after the war.
Statistical odds and if three people in my family have fallen

down cellar stairs to their deaths, whether it’s more or less likely
       to happen to me.
What kind of fruit tree we stood beside when my mother told me

the skin cancer on her arm was nothing to worry about.
She snapped a cluster of twigs off and held it out like a chicken foot.

All our fruit trees are dying she said. Whether it was crabapple or pear.
Why ravenous refers to neither ravens nor ravines. The moon’s name.

I thought every moon in autumn was a harvest moon,
but I lived in a city and never grew my own food. What did I know of
       the harvest?


Laura Cresté is the author of You Should Feel Bad, winner of a 2019 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. She holds an MFA from New York University, and is currently a 2021-2022 writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Native (Nanticoke) editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief of beestung, Editor-in-Chief at ANMLY, Co-Editor at Bettering American Poetry, a Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology, and a member of Sundress Press’s Board of Directors.

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