Beth Bachmann

I wore the face of the animal to lure the animal into shooting range.This was symmetry.We both needed to eat.We were both red meat.At least in one direction, the object is infinite.I refused to stop my hunger.Symmetry (in physics) means things don’t change.Each day, we keep coming back to bed.Waves are chaotic, but predictable.Strike a bell and, for awhile, it rings.The larger question is how to sustain the movement back and forth over time, for
example, in the beating of the heart or the vibration of a vocal fold.Waves break in a ship’s wake.The word for this double stress, “spondee,” comes from the ritual pouring out of a liquid
as an offering to a god.Wine, oil, or butter, typically—not blood.The body is symmetric for the purposes of movement, but only on the outside.Blood vessels are not symmetrical but self-similar, infinitely repeating insofar as infinite
iteration is not possible in nature.For Plato, a flower could only approximate its ideal form.Likewise, physics applies mathematical abstractions to the real world, as if it was
perfect, but it is not.Some orchids are bilaterally symmetrical like the human body, but in the shape of the
body of the female bee to attract the (actual) male bee.When I spoke of wearing the face of the animal, I meant of all the ways butterflies
camouflage, my favorite is the glasswing.One wing and its mirror image create the illusion of a whole butterfly.

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Beth Bachmann is the author of three books from the Pitt Poetry Series: Temper (Pittsburgh, 2009), winner of the A WP Donald Hall Prize and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Do Not Rise (Pittsburgh, 2015), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award; and CEASE (Pittsburgh, 2018). A 2016 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry, each fall she serves as Writer in Residence in the MFA program at Vanderbilt University.

Virginia Quarterly Review

Fall 2018

Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virginia

Paul Reyes

Publisher & Executive Editor
Allison Wright

Poetry Editor
Gregory Pardlo

From its inception in prohibition, through depression and war, in prosperity and peace, the Virginia Quarterly Review has been a haven—and home—for the best essayists, fiction writers, and poets, seeking contributors from every section of the United States and abroad. It has not limited itself to any special field. No topic has been alien: literary, public affairs, the arts, history, the economy. If it could be approached through essay or discussion, poetry or prose, VQR has covered it.

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