Parthenogenesis

By Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970 Brenda Shaughnessy
It’s easy to make more of myself by eating,
and sometimes easy’s the thing.

To be double-me, half the trouble
but not lonely.

Making cakes to celebrate any old day.
Eating too much: the emperor of being used.

Nature, mature and feminized,
naturalizes me naturally by creating

the feeling of being a natural woman,
like a sixteen-year-old getting knocked up

again. To solve that problem,
there’s the crispness of not eating,

a pane of glass with a bloody-edged
body, that is, having the baby at the prom

undetected and, in a trance of self-preservation,
throwing it away in the girls’ room trash.

Buried under paper towels, silent.
Nothing could be better, for the teenager.

For me, starving, that coreless, useful feeling,
is not making myself smaller

but making myself bigger, inside.
It’s prince and pauper both, it’s starving artist

and good model in one masterpiece.
It rhymes with marveling and that’s no accident.

Fullness is dullness. Dreaming’s too easy.
But sometimes I don’t care.

Sometimes I put in just the right amount,
but then I’m the worst kinds of patsy, a chump

giving myself over to myself like a criminal
to the law, with nothing to show for it.

No reward, no news, no truth.
It’s too sad to be so ordinary every day.

Like some kind of employee.
Being told what to do. Chop off a finger

to plant in fertilizer (that is, in used animal
food), to grow a finger tree.

More fingers for me. Stop saying finger.
I’m the one in charge here.

Stop the madness and just eat the mirror.
Put it in sideways or crush it

into a powder. It doesn’t hurt and it works.
Mouth full, don’t talk.

Nothing to say. I’ll be a whole new person.
I’ll make her myself. Then we’ll walk away.

We’ll say to each other how she’s changed.
How we wouldn’t have recognized us.

Brenda Shaughnessy, "Parthenogenesis" from Human Dark with Sugar. Copyright © 2008 by Brenda Shaughnessy.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008)

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Poet Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries, The Body

 Brenda  Shaughnessy

Biography

Brenda Shaughnessy earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MFA from Columbia University. She is the author of Interior with Sudden Joy (1999), Human Dark with Sugar (2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Our Andromeda (2012). Her work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, among other places. With C.J. Evans, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries, The Body

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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