by Lisa Shirley

            After a line by Octavio Paz, “The Petrifying Petrified”

We have dug up rage
this time of #metoo
finally opening the river of hurt
the ache of not believing
anger is a solace
although I have feared
for my entire life
the only way to handle it is to give
a gift to soothe the hurt I feel
at other people.

We have dug up rage
carved it out of our bones
the ribs sucked dry
and the long bones, femur, and humerus
making us taller and long-armed.
Even the flesh is torn
the skin, flayed, teeth poured out
like Gretel’s pebbles leading to the witch’s
house filled with blood
not candy.

We have dug up rage.
Look at us. Don’t turn away.



I am such a klutz in the kitchen,
a cut is nothing.
I have lost whole fingers,
a knuckle
at a time—adding zest
to every meal I make.

All it means is a trip
to the emergency room
to reattach the battered digits—
sewn back on
so neatly
only my mother can see
the lines I’ve opened
in my attempts to feed her.



Undressing for a massage,
I look in the mirror—
I have become a fertility goddess:
breasts drooping, stomach bulging.
Maybe those old figurines
are just statues of the women
of the house, sitting around feeling fat
and old. Even without children and no longer fertile,
I could be the model for a museum piece,
a bit of granite carved unflatteringly
by some man, wanting a son
to continue his carving business
and find other old women
to guide his hand as he works
fingering her body until
the stone smooths to its final shape.

Lisa Shirley’s poetry has been published in Crack the Spine, Sidewalks, Mascara Literary Review, Rougarou, and Waving Hands Review. She has an MLS from the University of Arizona and an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She has studied with esteemed writers like Vijay Seshadri, Billy Collins, Tom Lux, and Jack Driscoll. To pay for her poetry habit, Lisa works as a librarian.