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Katherine Eulensen

To Spite One's [Body Part]


 In the wake of domestic argument            the human body

calls upon developed coping mechanisms                

i.e. I have cultivated

a punishing stare 

i.e. I imagine thin crusts of ice forming

over my internal organs.


Did you know      when confronted with

a marital squabble            the female greenwood salamander

reacts by shedding body parts –

first a tail            a toe, a leg            and then her mate

eats them?

I made that up

to fuck with you.                    

When you lay down


next to me, I turn my head      away. It’s been

             a week,                                     two or three –


The greenwood salamander can take

anywhere from three days to five years

to grow back her tail. This is the appendage

most useful

in maintaining balance. 

Sometimes male greenwood salamanders

mimic the motions of their partners – perhaps

in an effort to empathize                        create a sense

of equilibrium.


When the tail grows back, it presents         

               a slightly different pattern.

This seems to have some impact

             on the household, i.e. the décor

and what things the greenwood salamanders

             decide to prioritize in the next phase

of their lives together.


It is painful                              to regrow                           

 a new body part

as you can imagine –       

the tightness of a new skin                  stretching

             over sinew and bone – let’s not

get bogged down               in details. It’s true

             that some greenwoods never

grow the tail back, and in some of these instances,

she adapts to her new body

and becomes more nimble. 

Katherine Eulensen.jpg

Katherine Eulensen lives, writes, and works in the Pacific Northwest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Seattle Review, The Los Angeles Review, Crab Creek Review and others.

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