BAKKU-SHAN (FOR AGING)
:A beautiful girl— as long as she's being looked at from behind.
1. Alice's Market
When us women from the workshop up the hill
come in to stock our borrowed kitchens, the checkout boy
says he doesn't understand poetry. There's a discount
for poets, we've been told. When the woman in front
of me tells the boy she needs to write a poem tonight,
he drawls write a poem about me. I feel like scratching
a mosquito bite, a tick that isn't there. After the woman pays
for her groceries & leaves, the boy confides he won't go
to the reading she invited him to, he's a busy guy he says,
& I'm thinking how I too unpeeled her coconut-milk skin,
her half-carton of eggs & two chocolate chip cookies, how
my plain rolls of bread seem insufficient, how this boy looks
more or less in love with himself than I've ever dared to be, or
how I used to write poems for boys who never even asked.
2. The Chicken
I've stopped shaving my legs beneath ankle-length muumuus,
stopped concealing the width of my particular nautilus of bone,
my eggshell-cracking of a heartbeat, my peeling & hardboiled.
I've remembered the photograph of a featherless chicken dancing,
her whole strange-leathered self balanced on just one claw.
She points her red face toward the camera & that magnificent
coxcomb, that wattle. She is unabashed, yes, but the Israeli scientists
breeding her face criticism: how will she survive the cold, or
the rooster's claws? Without feathers to protect her skin, her neck,
the others will sense her scratches, & start pecking—
for this is how hens treat their most vulnerable.
I've never tasted candied coxcomb with cherries & vanilla rice
pudding though I've heard it's a thing, but I've stood
in a market & faced myself—my strange, my naked need.
Jenn Givhan's full-length poetry collectionLandscape with Headless Mamahas won the 2015 Pleiades Editors' Prize and is forthcoming in 2016. Jenn is an NEA fellow in poetry, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellow, the inaugural Latin@ Scholarship recipient to The Frost Place, The Pinch Journal Poetry Prize 2015 winner, a DASH Literary Journal poetry first-prize winner, the Blue Mesa Review poetry second-prize winner, an Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize finalist, and a Prairie Schooner Book Prize finalist. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College, her Master's from Cal State Fullerton, and her work has appeared in over ninety journals and anthologies, includingBest New Poets 2013, AGNI, Southern Humanities Review, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Rattle, The Collagist,andThe Columbia Poetry Review. She teaches at Western New Mexico University and The Rooster Moans Poetry Coop.