Molly Brodak

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens,
and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

Gen. 7:2

I am not sureof what I guard.It feels molten.Some yearswere just rain,millions,something rainingsomething,& a sun, a star,a principle pointed downwith no munificencebehind the rain;films of bacteriacrept up rocks.                See pigs trot up the chute                sunny, all hairy shoulders, like fatty human torsos on hoofed pegs.Woman is an animal.Man is a way of not being a woman.Even in a myth or a million years agothere are almost no onenesses.                One is the sky:                it is flocked and deaf and only blue and blue.Man mule and woman muledrown, orderly and opposite.                The one sinking fast                sung first. Mud for an oven.With a voice addled with voices.With a trunk cleft like a hoof.Words like fronds,brushing me in. Then a manawakes into a body.Because someone leftthe water and lived?And how am I madeto not understand?Tubes of bloodin a buffeting nimbus,a whole planet, a lanternof a planet, and itsgene for slow wind,pools of overgrowth,a mammal’s white belly,his hands on a sidewalkfor seconds, orcenturies aheadunder crushing widenesswhere a small bookglued upunderfoot.A planet blinks ice on & off.This is not darkness.Snow moundslike a month.There is the void I guard.You describe it & I describe it.                Half of me feels strangled,                a curve in a dirt road. I can’t see ahead.Up to the trees’ necks, a rushing sound,and my particular birthplace is now fluid.Fluid again, I mean. Dark fluid. How a hill cut showed rawquartz veins, once white fluid, now wet in sun, teeth in a laugh.You are not a descendant of a womanwho never gave birth.There are no men but in instances.                Snail both man and wife,                thought itself into half stone.No women but in sheaves and sheaves of straining blood,sharp mournful sun alone like a oneness, but isn’t.We hauntthe remote.That word, we,now I hold my hand over like a fire.

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Molly Brodak published a full length collection of poetry, A Little Middle of the Night (University of Iowa Press, 2010), a memoir, Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir (Grove Atlantic, 2016), and three chapbooks of poetry. Her most recent collection, The Cipher, won the 2019 Pleiades Press Editors Prize. Before her death in 2020, she taught writing and literature at numerous institutions, including Emory University, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Georgia College and State University. An accomplished baker and recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Brodak’s poems appeared in such publications as Granta, Guernica, and Poetry Magazine.

December 2020

Tucson, Arizona

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THE VOLTA was founded in Tucson, Arizona on December 11, 2011 by Sara Renee Marshall and Joshua Marie Wilkinson. It went live on Sunday January 1st, 2012. From 2012 to 2017 it has been run by JMW and Afton Wilky. Sasha Hawkins took over as Managing Editor in 2017.

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