Wilderness with Filed Nails

Stephanie Cawley
It wasn't abstract but actual fact of morning gray clouds flattened above everything. I was a song that nobody listened to anymore but a faint curl of smoke remembered my name. I wanted somewhere for my anger to go but it blew back in my face, seeds in a wind, a caul. It had become more coherent than I expected, a set of preferences that stick like a nametag stitched to my chest. I wanted to live as intensely as possible at the edge of becoming, refuse to say what I was or who I had been. I drowned so many women in the lake. Their bones kept washing up on shore and I assembled them into new animals. This was called the production of knowledge. I was called mother, or language.

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Stephanie Cawley is a poet from southern New Jersey. She is the author of My Heart But Not My Heart, winner of the Slope Book Prize chosen by Solmaz Sharif, and the chapbook A Wilderness from Gazing Grain Press. Her poems and other writing appear in DIAGRAM, The Fanzine, TYPO, The Boston Review, and West Branch, among other places. Her next book Animal Mineral will be out from YesYes Books in 2022.

Learn more at stephaniecawley.com.  

No. 90

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Stadler Center for Poetry
Bucknell University

G. C. Waldrep

Managing Editor
Andrew Ciotola

Shara Lessley

West Branch is a thrice annual magazine of poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews, founded in 1977 and housed at the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University.

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