The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Swan Wife by Sara Moore Wagner

This selection, chosen by guest editor Alyse Bensel, is from Swan Wife by Sara Moore Wagner, released by Cider Press Review in 2022.

Penelope Complex

What I do
when you’re clear
over there, over
me is tie myself
to the outside
of the house, naked
and pregnant, tie
myself to the drainpipe,
the clogged one—I want
to be seen doing something
unlike myself. Gender
is this burden in the hip, shooting
up the drainpipe, up
instead of into the earth—remember
I am a piece of moon. This is my
catabasis. Hunker down
or hold me against
the clean sheet
of the sky, legs out
like chem trails. I want
to divide myself
from the image you’ve written
in that book about mothers,
you know the one—I am
listening to the wind
for another voice
to call me out of my body,
a stone from the evening,
an eye for an eye—I am
undoing it all, as a tapestry, I am
not waiting
any longer.

Sara Moore Wagner is the author of three prize winning full length books of poetry, Lady Wing Shot, winner of the 2023 Blue Lynx Prize (forthcoming in 2024), Swan Wife (Cider Press Review Editors Prize, 2022), and Hillbilly Madonna (Driftwood Press Manuscript Prize, 2022), and the author of two chapbooks, Tumbling After (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2022) and Hooked Through (2017). She is also a 2022 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient, a 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals and anthologies including Gulf Coast, Smartish Pace, Waxwing, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cincinnati Review, among others.

Alyse Bensel is the author of Rare Wondrous Things: A Poetic Biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (Green Writers Press, 2020) and three chapbooks. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly ReviewCream City ReviewSouth Dakota Review, and West Branch. She serves as Poetry Editor for Cherry Tree and teaches at Brevard College, where she directs the Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference. 

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