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Pick of the Week

Natasha Rao: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Natasha Rao 2023 web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Abecedarian on Shame

 

A mushroom quietly throbs with poison. I

bloat full of lies. Spurred by my

capacity for ruin, I insulted my brother

during the brief visit home, got too drunk in the

expensive restaurant while my mother’s worry

fermented. When confronted with my lack of

gentleness, I blame birth control or the moon, but

haunted by the palpitations of a mouse stuck

in glue, I knew atonement was beyond my trapping.

Just months ago I shaved all my fur then

knelt naked in front of not-you, have

laid in unfamiliar beds, squeak becoming purr,

metamorphosing into whatever kind of

nocturnal creature strangers desire. I keep

offering the soft meat of myself to

people I meet on the internet, save the stinging

quills for those who love me. I don’t know how to

reassemble myself into the kind of animal who

sniffs her way home every time. Somewhere,

there is a version of me whose instinct is to

tell the truth. She has no reason to

unravel in the doctor’s office, no sudden fits of

viciousness and rage. She does the right thing even

when no one is looking. I envy her timeline, the

x-axis aligned. Somehow I grow more twisted, each

year eluding guilt with skill. It’s easiest to pluck

zinnias if you don’t look them in the face.

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Natasha Rao is the author of Latitude, which was selected by Ada Limón as the winner of the 2021 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. The recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, she has also received fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Community of Writers. Her work appears in The NationAmerican Poetry ReviewThe Yale Review, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is currently Co-Editor of American Chordata

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Henri Rousseau  La Bohémienne endormie (The Sleeping Gypsy). 1897  oil on canvas.  web                                           Henri Rousseau, La Bohémienne endormie (The Sleeping Gypsy). 1897, oil on canvas. 
                                                      



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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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