meathooks in Arctic air, their shiny longing for de-furred forms,
bone-lipid, for fat greasing steel fingers—bodies
hanging that had once gnawed grass
stitched white by a fence beneath clouds so bulbous
up-lookers forget the holes
air conditioners across America have bit into sky.
Lucy exits the meat factory,
toes a tuft of weed. This field trip
is her favorite: concrete's edge: Axe cologne: mold
blackening the bus corner, and Lucy's sudden realization—
If Polly Pocket can say, No, I'd prefer tea over the Twizzlers;
no, I'd rather rock my thumb-sized baby
in my room than on the patio;
no, I want my husband to be astronomer not artist—
I, too, can refuse.
Claudia Cortese's first full-length book, Wasp Queen, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2016. Cortese is also the author of two chapbooks: Blood Medals (Thrush Poetry Press, 2015), a collection of prose poems, and The Red Essay and Other Histories (Horse Less Press, 2015), a book of lyric essays. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets 2011, Blackbird, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast Online, and Sixth Finch, among others. The daughter of Neapolitan immigrants, Cortese grew up in Ohio and lives in New Jersey, where she teaches at Montclair State University.