Meriwether Clarke

Women as Cows

When I expand,
let it be horizontally
forward, pushing me on
my hands and knees. Let
my breasts morph into one
mottled half-sphere, hanging
in a balloon below my
belly. Let me learn
to love the taste of grass, the blades
disintegrating on
my tongue
in a sour lime-green
swill. Let my father learn
to count on me for milk.
Let my mother give up dreams
of a small pink baby
and learn I am now
a pile of bones stuffed into
the shape of a cow,
no longer uncertain
of my purpose.

First

Bell-leaves out the window ring.
            There, just beyond them, is
where we met.

You crowned me with dandelions,
            blew on my face, tried to
pluck out my hair

strand by strand. What am I?
            Made of grass? I said. It
should have been a sign

you were unkind
            when you nodded yes and asked me
to lay down. Blades beneath me

folded into a nest, a pyre.
            You told me I was
the Virgin Mary, a body

in a halo, gold and white.
            Your mouth was birds
pecking grain. My belly was

still soft, but open now, expanding
            as a hand stretches
out after making a fist.

Author Portrait

Meriwether Clarke’s writing can be found in Prelude, The Asian-American Literary Review, and The Nashville Review, among others. She is a graduate of the poetry programs at Northwestern University and University of California, Irvine, and currently lives in Los Angeles.