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Poetry: Erin Marsh

Tales of an Earwig

You enter my brain like an earwig,
through the moist, small crevice
of my ear. An old wives’ tale suggests
you lay eggs in my brain,
and for a while it seems you have.

At night I’m convinced tender
hatchlings inform dreams where kisses
tickle my sulcus and gyrus, igniting
visions of your mouth on mine. Vivid
sensations caused by your stout,
pincer-like cerci on my frontal lobe,
rattle memories of your body
on mine like bones.

It turns out that those impressions
are neural, that you’ve actually spent
the night scrambling
your way out of my head.

Dentinogenesis Imperfecta

• A genetic disturbance of the main material of the teeth (dentin), marked by rapid wear and a milky look to the teeth

I can tell a lot about a woman by her kiss

What exactly did you taste in the hauntingly
quiet red of our kiss?

     Maybe it was the hearty earthiness of teeth
     sans enamel, unprotected and soft, your vigorous
     tongue banging dents into their grayness.

     Maybe it was the taut slickness of long
     stretches of freshly grown gum, abscessed
     teeth pulled when withered roots failed
     to inform the brain of pus-filled pain.

     It probably was the familiar metallic
     tang of your own blood, violently drawn
     as the wave of your tongue crashed
     on the chipped teeth’s jagged rocks.

Could you tell that the breath fervidly issuing
from this mouth
would also infect the heart?

You reach for a water bottle,
rinsing the taste of my father’s carcass
from your mouth. I have set loose
his decay.

An Argument For Wife


A vintage color diagram
of female sexual organs
hangs on the wall, our bed
anchoring the womb.
(Hippocrates was correct—the uterus,
bulbous, pale red apple,
floats throughout the body,
compressing, latching on to other organs.
When I exhibit symptoms
of hysteria, my lover should
apply fermented urine to my nose and mouth—
driving the womb back to its place).
An unfilled prescription hides
in the center desk drawer,
reads “marriage and child-rearing.”


My husband pores over Hippocratic texts
instructing that frequent intercourse
keeps the womb moist,
prevents violent dislocation.
(He offers prayers of thanks for the man
who relieved me of dangerous virginity,
infused my cervix with soggy ardor,
kept me eager.) My mate
keeps me plump, sated.
I stay in one place, my humors
securely balanced until pregnancy
colors me—pink flushed complexion
means boy, sallow, girl.

All rights reserved to Erin Marsh.

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