| From the Archive, Poetry

A Brief Excerpt from “Honey Locust”

Cover art by Alex Walsh

Issue 45.1
Winter 2015

Katie Willingham

BBC News, March 5th:

Scientists publish the most detailed brain scans
ever taken. Images of the first
sixty-eight subjects take up about two
terabytes of computer memory, enough to fill
over four hundred DVDs.

To make a darkroom, you must
paper the windows, to keep out the light.


There are many pictures of me
with the family dog but I only
remember the smell
of his breath like a fish market
laced with smoke.

A postcard:

woodcut by Bryan Nash Gill
from the exhibit at the Botanic
Garden—tree rings, the lines
gone blurry in the bottom right.

A labor of love, my mother
would say as she squinted down
at the prints in the water.

A photograph described
as overexposed shows a loss of detail such
that bright parts of an image become washed or
blown out.

Large-scale relief prints of the cross-sections
of trees, says the postcard, this one
Honey Locust. I like the speciation, as in
an anatomy textbook. On Gill’s website,
each detailed image is glassy in the liquid
crystal display.

Mother, source material:

She stands at the window, licking
an envelope, sealing it shut.

The brain scans show a functional or
structural map of circuitry. It’s hard not
to compare—hers like a walnut,
the meat of it gone bitter.


What checks the natural tendency
of each species is most obscure.

What does it mean to make art
anyone can make? Transfer
is the art term for wood-cuts.

The ones she hung on the wall never
had any people. It’s different,
she said, they’re posed.


Probably in no single instance should we know
what to do, so as to succeed.

Katie Willingham is a Zell postgraduate fellow in poetry at the University of Michigan where she was the recipient of a Hopwood Prize and a Nicholas Delbanco Thesis Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Paper Darts, Phantom Limb, and others.

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