Nicole Connolly



I could be my own orbit               if only I could let myself die
with my tail in my mouth. Let me instead
slide along the road                          of hunger, a road
I push


in the sand with my body;               a body
one long gut           barely sheathed, led by a tongue
ahead of my head,


a tongue forked         not like a path that could             
        take me one way


or another—         instead, like a dowsing rod that points       to one desire
twice.                              I would rather see        


the world only
                  in what I can take from it.                  I would rather
my fullness                  on anything I see


as red, set my starvation                            on anyone I see
                 as red, ask myself each time         I bring another life inside me
                 will you be the one
to survive this?
                              heat me from the inside.


As long as your heart beats against                my heart, I’ll convert


to seeds, to roots, to feed                        your mammal body
                 to hold                                 it like a hot stone         I never


have to leave.       I will spear blades of grass, two               at a time


one for each uselessly                 poisoned tooth          for this ritual—
                 a ritual better                                than orbiting myself—


better than
orbiting the world—                   a ritual that makes us into


one swollen sun.




My birth was the end of my mother’s life,
a tether to my father so it was never enough
to leave him for a screaming match
over a butter dish, or the statement, “I don’t
really care about your thoughts.”

My favorite kind of thrill seeking is nearly
dying, too, getting close enough to the afterlife
to see it: you, unprotected man; our child,
potentially a bud in an ovary, waiting for rain.

Each time I forget, I go to see that world
again, testing what is heritable. If, like my ancestors,
I am pregnant this way; if, like my ancestors, I can’t
terminate, could I live their death? I could not leave

our child alone with you. I envision him smashing
your whiskey bottles on the ground, as he
tells a friend, “It’s not lava, but we can play
it the same way.” I envision Poison Control
would be the most important family contact,
speed dial #1. Could they tell me the answer:

During what age window is the child’s hand
big enough to open the child-resistant pill bottle,
while the rest of the child’s body is not big enough
to resist dying from what’s inside? I envision

our child finding you passed out the way
I have, and the way I shook you and yelled
your name & your name, he will shake
and scream, daddy, daddy! Or, worse,
he will have already learned to put his ear
near your mouth and listen for breath, to trust

you not to swallow him, as if we weren’t
all three already in the belly of your beast.
And after these three visions like three
shocks to the heart in a hospital TV series,
I wake up to myself in the clinic, still shrouded
in blue paper, knees praying to air, instruments
being removed and results being pored over
like a page from the Bible. She says everything

is perfect. The nausea, not morning sickness, only
stress. The period ten days late, not pregnancy,
only stress; or maybe, a miscarriage so early,
you can’t even name it one. Which all means
I could pretend nothing had happened, if I had not

already seen. Ask me what I learned about
the afterlife, and I’ll tell you that miracles trick you
to stop fighting fate by making the world seem
fateless, making it seem as though water could be
anything but water—even as great as wine—or that

this unplanned pregnancy—the next step in
an unplanned pregnancy bloodline—could have
been anything but the end of my life, even as great
as its true beginning. Ask, and I will proclaim:
If your body does not become miracle, Amen.

Nicole Connolly lives and works in Orange County, CA, which she promises is mostly unlike what you see on TV. She received her MFA from Bowling Green State University, and her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in such journals as Pretty Owl Poetry, Flyway, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Pithead Chapel. She currently serves as Managing Editor for the poetry-centric Black Napkin Press.
Mark Cugini