An Excision by Molly Sutton Kiefer


Pure, as in:  the topmost layer of a recent snowstorm,
the loam-richness of the compost bin in spring, the color
of water in a pitcher, winter breath. Shot through of light,
as in: magnolia blossoms, the choral loft.
                                                                        Nights ago,
I dreamt of this, two women lifting the flap of my abdomen
to remove a shoulder-burden, and I asked, If I’m not
going to get a baby out of all of this, couldn’t I at least be put out?

                                                            Cold as a river stone.
Outside, the hospital breathes ice. It is daggers
in my back, each tap on my shoulder strikes white and my eyes
bulge, bulge, then nothing. Little hairpins stand erect and slide
into and out of flesh. The doctor is snipping fabric, held inches
above my body. The doctor is pulling tchotchkes: a clock
for the mantle, a glass dome, mist coming from under the lid
of a bell jar, her hands hurried as if breaking through earth.
My eyes lilt and close, lift to inventory the cotton balls, the whorls
of my fingers. She’s put the tumor on the table,
amongst all gauze curtains, and lets me prod it with my finger.
There, dead flesh, jagged windowsill. I hadn’t looked
into the dark hole. I kept my head turned into a crick,
kept counting the boles, as she sang, trimming,
each part of me back into place, pat down,
pulled tight like a wool blanket.



Molly Sutton Kiefer is the author of the hybrid essay Nestuary (Ricochet Editions, 2014) and the poetry chapbooks The Recent History of Middle Sand Lake (Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press, 2010) and City of Bears (dancing girl press, 2013). Her work has appeared in The Collagist, Harpur Palate, Women’s Studies Quarterly, WomenArts Quarterly, Berkeley Poetry Review, you are here, Gulf Stream, Cold Mountain Review, Southampton Review, and Permafrost, among others. She is a member of the Caldera Poetry Collective, is a founding editor of Tinderbox Poetry Journal, reviews for PANK and The Rumpus, and runs Balancing the Tide: Motherhood and the Arts | An Interview Project. More can be found at