Poetry News

At PSA: Claire Donato Meditates on Her Second Book, The Second Body

By Harriet Staff


Claire Donato is featured this week for PSA's "In Their Own Words"! Donato--whose second collection of poetry, The Second Body, is now out from Poor Claudia--penned an essay called "The Second Bodies," which meditates on the book's title poem. Read an excerpt below.

12. In the middle of this essay, the second body arrives, marking me possessed.

13. In my spare time, I read (past and present tense) books about the couple-form, a container I desire to burn. It is through this container that patriarchy wraps its hands around that which courses through these lines: settle down! settle down! So there is a second body in this, and there is a second second body that is the product of this, and there is an oppressive body comprised of two—a third body—that "stands in for desire itself, after enshrined, funneled, and reduced to a single object by patriarchy" (Clémence X. Clementine and associates from the Infinite Venom Girl Gang, "Against the Couple-Form"). How to unravel it?

14. In this sentence, I take possession between my palms and set it ablaze. Heterosexuality burns. Jealousy burns. Monogamy burns. The bed is on fire. The bath towels are aflame. So too are my palms a hot glowing second body shooting in and out of exhaust. A black cat crosses the frame. Then another. Now I am standing in the center of a circle lined with pain. Never will I wed: this sentence is accompanied by the coloratura mezzo-soprano whose voice suffers sudden malfunctions, glitches serving as units of time vanquishing abuses. As the fire rages, this sentence renders cultural constructions of love that bring forth the Second Body Obsolete. When the marital bower goes up in flames, all that is left are the rings.

Read more of Donato's poems here; ad the full essay at Poetry Society of America.