Carrie Etter – Two poems

The Returns

The first time he buried me,
he carried my body to the fallow acre
the Smiths rotated through
their strawberry farm. I did not bear
any fruit he could see.

Beetle by worm, I began
to appreciate patience.

The second time he took a cleaver
to sever each limb from torso.
My main he interred
behind my childhood shed.

I drank air through soil
among the skeletons of Binky and Bonnie
(gerbils) and Cleo, Angel,
Mags, and Chip (cats);
wondered if my body hair
would thicken into fur.

The time, when he strode in
to the sight of me, filthy, gleaming, whole,
he flinched. Now I could pack.



Photo with Ghost

From my mother’s clothes, I saved three cotton nightgowns for myself. The hospital letter said I could bring a gown, so I took the pink, new-like for my MRI. I arrived, and the assistant said I could wear my street clothes. I stared, apologetic and vacant. I stared, stilled. I put my bag with the pink into a designated locker. I climbed onto the scanner’s curved bed more vulnerable than anticipated.




Originally from Normal, Illinois, Carrie Etter has published three collections: The Tethers (Seren, 2009), winner of the London New Poetry Award; Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011); and Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. She also edited Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010), and Linda Lamus’s posthumous collection, A Crater the Size of Calcutta (Mulfran, 2014). Her fourth collection, The Weather in Normal, will be published this autumn.