Dark Lady Poetry - Jennifer Givhan



Volume Two, Number One


Jennifer Givhan

You Don't Want More Kids, You Claim


Husband, last night I dreamt you were pregnant
instead of me. You wore my purple, flower fringed
maternity dress (the one I lived in when pregnant  

though I claimed I hated, was tired of, but wore
because it was comfortable and made me look
pregnant instead of just fat) when your loaded 

belly ballooned. At one point in the dream
I cried because you were the one pregnant instead 

of me, though I was excited for your experience,
that you would get to grow life and bond with the 
child before she could smile or coo or grasp a finger
with her own, although you claim you haven’t bonded
with either of our children yet, not even the three-year-old
who screams out, “My daddy’s home!” when you walk
through the door wearing your nursing scrubs ordering 

him to stand back, don’t hug you yet, until you change 

and wash your hands of the germs from the bus, the hospital,
or perhaps from your sadness at not having been home
with us all day in the first place but crowded with sick people
and dead people and people going to work on the bus. 



The Eve of Destruction


Created not from the stagnant rib 

but from the beating heart 

I could not breed the fall. 

I never held paradise. 


I am not a piece of bone 

blamed for all destruction. 


In the cool mist of bliss 

where velvet figs fringed 

upon fringe of silken tents and willows 

swept their skirts 

rustling against ever-lit skies 

of god that gold, 

I was alone. 


Weaved under a seamless shroud 

what chance for wondrous gazing 

up toward the patchwork of flickering 

stars as they speckled the blackest night 

with incandescence? What luminous slit 

if darkness never fell? 


An oak without limbs cannot reach 

for the sky. If prostrate formed, 

then formed discontented in the garden 

of letting go. 


Uncracked, the acorn 

will never know its worth. Cached 

for endless winters but never spent. 

Might forget it is an acorn at all and not 

a rock. A knob in a leathered tree. 


I stopped pressing my ear toward an empty sky: 

my voice contained within itself the strength to pray. 


I split open 

formed branches 

found the fruit I’d borne myself. 

Bit into myself. Chewed each bite slowly. 

And I was freed. 




Jennider Givhan earned her MA in English, and was the 2010 recipient of the Emerging Voices Fellowship in Poetry through PEN Center USA and the November 2010 poet of the month at Moontide Press. Her poems have been published widely online and in print, most recently in Rattle, The Los Angeles Review, The Southwestern Review, The Acentos Review, Blood Lotus Journal, Blast Furnace and Poetry Quarterly, and her full-length poetry collection Red Sun Mother has been nominated a finalist in the 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award Contest through Black Lawrence Press as well as a semi-finalist in the 2011 Santa Fe Writer's Program Poetry Contest. She is a poetry editor for Ishaan Literary Journal, and teaches composition in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she now lives with her husband, toddler daughter and preschool-age son.

February, 2012

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