an excerpt from land of eroded womb

Isabel Balée


turning over in erosions of sleep, eyes dried at the center, it is quiet

along blood-streaked edges & oxbows, current slowing at the mouth.


the crevassed, disordered landscape of my body crawls invertebrately


not coming, flattened, swallowed whole, hung like an old curtain, tissue resewn,

dead of any noise but pressured speech of cicadas.


it rained for centuries in my mouth silent & blighting.


what happened here. anticlimax / muscle memory of orgasm buried in mudflats.

if cannot open myself with my own hands

how could you begin.

if the womb were not depressed. if i were swollen, could swallow


the mississippi & subtract my tongue


i take the shape of a void, eye of storm.


you cannot enter me when i’m being restructured. wait a few more months.


what is that you want to inhabit this gravity. there is no pleasure

without language to gratify the lack.

a flower atrophies in the window & if i engrave this thinning into my palms & rub them together like sticks, will i ignite

present tense to move forward through a city built on loss. i never wrote down the impermanence of this language, but as one levee subsides

another is sewn as ligament

on the map

enabling ecological illusion, a city’s

skeleton exposed at every corner, burial grounds of dirt & rock enclosed by tape & orange cones; the area, ever growing, closed for thru traffic,

water swelling & shifting our bones.

if i did not come from this land. if i were not still caught in the wake,

tired muscle of grief

smothered into every silence

but bulldozers filling


with new tissue

& underbelly of land

lesioned by this mythology

of repaving.