Dead Moon, Brooklyn by Rose Auslander


Dear wild-water child who does not wish to have a name,

            Last night, I had another of those dreams:
your many limbs were juggling your
removed breasts on the high wire. No fanfare, no applause,
only a sharp snap, frayed rope ends flying,
only lights out, after nothing broke
your fall.

            Free fall, I heard you say. Like a trapeze.

Oh my child, I’ve tried not to worry
since you walked out of your name

into the woods, though I saw your self-portrait—
with tree limbs where your breasts would be,
or was it the other picture you drew—that boy with an orange
bandana tied over his mouth. Somehow
he looked like you

            telling me, What I might decide to do
to my body is my own damn business,
telling me
to tell you

            that breasts can be
limbs and limbs can be breasts,
better than breasts
to catch you if you were to fall,
and a girl can be a tree
or a boy

if she, no if he
wants to be.


Rose Auslander is the author of the chapbooks Folding Water, Hints, and The Dolphin in the Gowanus. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson and is Poetry Editor of Folded Word Press. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has read her poems on NPR.