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Rebecca Valley

The Memory of Swimming

In the history of my birth I arrive onstage


Watching the primary symptom of the affliction.


I move as a red balloon above my body.

I tangle in the limbs.







It was there I remembered:

An animal is precious.

We give them nothing but our names.


A lake is not unlike


the shallow pit of an eye socket

wet & uneasy a lake is

membranous is

always looking






Say a small brown beetle lands on the pad of my thumb. Whose crime is it?


I feel comfortable around invertebrates and

their helmet spines.


To sing a hymn to birth to sing

to comfort on roads without any houses,

too slick for houses


Among beetles I sing a hymn






Birds love to tell me I don’t belong here


I don’t know what it means to be

an animal


Only how to cry

in the grass

Rebecca Valley.jpg



Rebecca Valley is a poet, essayist, and animal enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Birdcoat Quarterly and other journals. She received her MFA in Poetry from UMass Amherst, and is the editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on marginalized authors. She also curates writing prompts on making and performing art at home on Instagram @living_room_theatre. She currently lives in northern Vermont with two cats and a corn snake, but you can find her online at

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