Kate Litterer



What is your ideal mother?

Her hair must not turn white.
Nor her skin blister like a shell.

I must hunger for her.

How did you learn not to weep?

Watching my mother
weep like birds
knitting with
their beaks by
balancing stitches,
nearly swallowing
the needle heads.

I could say my mother

primed me
for weeping.

I would be lying.

Ideal cornice?

Under the cornice
of my mother

a broken crocus

watching The Sound
of Music during
my illness
I sweat my bed
like a roller of salt.



Did your husband
smell the difference
when you got home?

Did he carry a gun before, after?

Did he say,
okay Leda lay
your fucking eggs
of Zeus,
bring forth out
swanish children,

coax their little
meat, bathe their
fast hearts.

Birth your beasts.

Or did he say
Leda come here
I love you.

Or did he say Leda
come here.



My hair was captured
and drawn. So they took me
as their mare.

But I was not.

They said:

you have the ropiest muscles flex them


mare, you are my and our house:

your back has one purpose—
carry smaller horses
like a bus.

And I,

the hostel lady
in mare with no
choice asked,

so I am transport?

The air simmered.

They bulleted me:


a sugar mare,
a bowl of mares.



The water bird knocked me out. I came to in conflagration.


The dew had chilled my arms and legs and as I adjusted my eyes
on the star dots above me I knew immediately to run. I had instincts:
shake like a just born deer or plunge my physique deep in the woods?
I was surprised by my determination: five seconds or less of shame
for waking nude then three to test my joints and then an action plan.
The second choice of my own: heave my breasted body off the ground
and then: the hiding trees. Decide: skinny moonlit or the dark cluster?
Even though they both led to the same goal and the moon wasn’t
a guarantee, I took off through the glow. I was shaky; I was kinetic.
Every time my bare feet hit the ground my lungs pumped stronger
and I burned forward. I didn’t know how important that initial run
was—my body began to redevelop what it had lost. I was energy. My hair
caught in my mouth and my spit habitual like tree bark, I was unbreakable
like the rocks I jumped over. As I reached velocity the fat in my thighs
shook like drums. In order to escape I would have to play it by war.

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