Gabrielle Bates

could I be punished for thinking there are many ways of being dutifulme staring at the shape of a man I love his body covered in lightlike a patchy white mold            wanting to scrape it off before I eatcould I            eyed as I am brained as I am be blamedat the age of eight I was locked in a dryer it was not turned on it wasa space made not for me but what I wore a place of heat and turningturned around me cold and still            to be curled into one self so longthe scent between the thighs is the same as the mouth            is the sameas the scent surrounding is to go about the world forever skepticalof endings            birth sex fear love loyalty nothing ends truthfullymy knees were at my neck so long I spawned a companion            sisterchromatids speared with the same spindle we consoled one anothercrying and banging the walls was too easy of course it didn't workGod rarely rewards the hysterical it's the quiet sufferers God likesto keep alive            there was no light in that ridged steel round no lightand thus loose minds we made peace with this as the place of our deathI began to believe            I was not a victim I            had locked myself in therelike a baby's skull is sometimes strapped into a helmet my shapewas not yet pleasing enough did not yet match the future wanted for memy true shape was a sphere it must be            I am to be sidelesslater who knows how much later the chair was slid away from the doorand the door opened            light like a decomposing thing bit and bitat all my knowledge my mother was hysterical and could not hold meas the dryer had shh I told her shh there are many ways of being punished        for it

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Gabrielle Bates is a writer and visual artist from Birmingham, Alabama, currently based in Seattle, where she works for Open Books: A Poem Emporium and cohosts the podcast The Poet Salon. Her poems and poetry comics have appeared in the New YorkerPoetry, The Offing, and New England Review, among other venues. She can be found at www.gabriellebat.es or on twitter: @GabrielleBates

Summer 2019

Cincinnati, Ohio

University of Cincinnati

Poetry Editor
Rebecca Lindenberg

Managing Editor
Lisa Ampleman

Don Bogen

Since its inception in 2003, The Cincinnati Review has published many promising new and emerging writers as well as Pulitzer Prize winners and Guggenheim and MacArthur fellows. Poetry and prose from our pages have been selected to appear in the annual anthologies Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Best American Fantasy, Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the Midwest, and Best Creative Nonfiction.

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