Researchers Find Mice Pass On Trauma to Subsequent Generations; Delayed Communiqué from Poet to Astronaut

Lisa Fay Coutley

Researchers Find Mice Pass On Trauma
to Subsequent Generations

Even before I was born, before my father
            took my mother’s head in his hands,
                        her black curls like sprockets

sprung from his palms, & held her face
            under the lukewarm water of our tub,
                        her belly a heavy globe—my only

armor—pressed against that bright white
            porcelain, before I took my first breath
                        two months after my father failed

to cinch it, her, I mastered a palpable fear
            of choking. It’s all a mind game, Dad
                        would say, shoving another M&M

in my mouth: swallow. Pseudodysphagia—
            even before I learned the word I knew
                        the shame that came from fearing

fear rooted in the fiction of my mind—hers
                                    & hers & hers & hers.

Delayed Communiqué from Poet to Astronaut

First thin skin of snow stop so white
            the breaking wave against its slate
                        sky so close to its lonely

end again always stop sorry I haven’t
            written in days stop I found myself
                        telling the puppy he’s lucky

& cursed to never feel compelled
            to hold his face against the wind
                        to watch the futility

of water rushing toward shore
            only to be thrown back & in
                        stop to know that complication

is beauty I said & he showed me
            I’d never understand the simplicity
                        of chasing a leaf though I’ve been

in love stop I thought I had nothing left
            to say stop there is a woman behind
                        the birth of words inside me

stop she’s waiting to forget your name.

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