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Jennifer Saunders

Self-Portrait with Gene Sequence

Self-Portrait with Housewife

Self-Portrait with Gene Sequence

My body is not a coherent story.

Its scars and bruises form no registry, rather

a random demonstration of the multiplicity of ways

we can betray one another. They serve

no predictive value, nor are they decorative:

each misplaced cell nothing but an illustration

of the shape skin can take

after it has been kneaded like dough.

My body rises in the heat, a chemical reaction.

Complicity of hunger. The seasons pass quickly.

Where on the spectrum of days am I now?

I burn in the new time, sag raw in the old.

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Self-Portrait with Housewife

I am the roots of the bush
and not the late flowering rose
color of a beeswax candle burning at noon;

a common sparrow
instead of the bluethroat
snatching caterpillars from the dill.

I’m neither magpie nor
the sparkle it steals
but the round nest of twigs in the birch tree.

In the vineyard I am wire
rather than vine;
leaf, not fruit.

Know that I have never
planted oleander or followed
the blossoms homeward.

I have not leaned out my bedroom window
to sip honeysuckle,
have not scented the night.

I have felled no trees, ordered
no lightning-strikes,
burned no arbors.

I do not decant well; I evaporate.
I am ill at ease in high heels. I lean
on what does not support me.

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Jennifer Saunders is a US citizen currently living in German-speaking Switzerland. She holds an MFA from Pacific University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Found Poetry Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Spillway, and elsewhere.

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