Monkey Treachery

Wolf skull surrounded by a circle of lilies
Larissa Szporluk

Maybe I had a baby
with my father.

Maybe I’m lying.
Maybe I wish 

I had a father, then a baby,
then another

then a break— 

what use is a child,
or a finger?

If we had just one finger,
what kind of people

would we be
in the garden,

eating violets
at Susanna’s private party

in the bible?
Maybe we would catch 

being eyeballed

by the elders
at her bath,

watch their fingers
go inside her,

gone to powder,
catching wrath.

Chosen by: Millie Tullis, Poetry Editor

Szporluk’s use of line breaks and stanza breaks create surprise, horror, and delight throughout this poem. The heavy repetition of uncertain language in the poem’s opening creates a powerfully destabilizing effect. The words “maybe,” “father,” and “baby” arrange and rearrange into new sentences, undoing and remaking previous statements. The poem creates a space where everything present is questioned: “what use is a child / or a finger?”

Art: Bobby Neel Adam, “Wolf from Momento Mori” Phoebe Issue 49.1

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