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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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Emily Davis-Fletcher is from Missouri, USA. She received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Stephens College in 2006.
In 2008, she earned a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from NUI, Galway. She has read her poetry on local radio and at numerous events. She has lived in Cork, Ireland for many years, and is a co-organiser with Cork Feminista.
Photo © Mike Hannon
Body of Sister Jean Marie
She is even and symmetrical except for one hair the scissors missed, tugging at her right shoulder, sometimes grabbing the corner of her mouth like a delicate hook, almost invisible, as she continues drawing on the blackboard. Lines, she explains, are points reaching for infinity, and she goes on and on about the use of Fibonacci numbers to count petals and build the inner walls of seashells like staircases spiraling into orderly oblivion.
Her legs and arms are as stiff and slender as sticks. Her long pleated skirt shows off diamond ankles. She is a perfect match for Christ—smooth and ageless to a t in his white cloth with a modesty even the full sun, bleeding through stained glass, cannot penetrate.
It is obvious to us why she became a nun. Our bodies the real mystery; once-simple points bursting in all directions, pulling us as they turn against us, shaming and blaming us for their faults like alcoholic mothers. We wish they were dead to us, our bodies, so we could stop dreading their spreading tenderness and pungent juices.
Pam distresses over her breasts drooping in full bloom. Leslie shivers through each night, airing out the boiled sweat smell of her feet, but the sourness travels all the way to her auburn hair. Lindsey shows us why her left nipple is meant for the circus till our sides cramp from laughing at the horror. My face erupts into a complexion I try to save by the gospel according to Cosmo, with creams, gentle upward strokes, etc., but I have no luck killing bees at work under my skin.
We take turns angling a mirror to help Lindsey aim a tampon, but she is too afraid to look and so are we. We turn away all together from what really bonds us—between our legs, folding lines drawing up to the point we all unfold from, as hidden as the innermost speck that sends a shell coiling.
Like everything else, these lines take on new shapes and meanings, sometimes a baby’s toothless grin or a vampire pear for seven days each month. We lean in to listen to Leslie reveal how boys worm their way inside, and we keep secret the infinite heights we reach along our own lines.
Sister Jean Marie catches my wayward gaze, squeezes the back of my neck with her candlestick fingers—silent orders to keep my eyes on my own geometry. I take them from her dusty husband’s ribs protruding, his sacrifice of hungry flesh, to study her lines carrying hidden lessons.
©2013 Emily Davis-Fletcher
'Between Women': Reading by Emily Davis-Fletcher at O'Bheal
Blog posts by Emily Davis-Fletcher at Some Neat Things
'Romancing the Stones of Charles Fort': essay by Davis-Fletcher at TourAbsurd