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The Birth of Superstition

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It’s not hard to imagine: my ancestor—a dry season,
               dust like chalk on her tongue—mixes
                              spit with clay,
 
traces a river on rock. Next day: rain.
 
                                                                           Why shouldn’t she believe
               in the power of rock and her own hand?
 
I carry this need for pattern and rule, to see connections
               where there aren’t necessarily any.
 
                                                            After my first miscarriage,
I cut out soda, cold cuts.
 
               After the second, vacuuming and air travel.
 
After the third—it’s chalk and spit again. I circle rocks,
               swim the icy river.
 
                                             And when my son is born, he balances
the chemical equation that is this world.
 
                                                                                          And logic?
 
Logic is my son’s kite, good so long as you have
               wind, string,
                                             something heavier than hope
 
                                                                                          to tether you.
 

Lynn Pedersen, "The Birth of Superstition" from The Nomenclature of Small Things.  Copyright © 2016 by Lynn Pedersen.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.
 
Source: The Nomenclature of Small Things (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016)
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The Birth of Superstition

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  • Lynn Pedersen earned her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the full-length collection The Nomenclature of Small Things (2016) and the chapbooks Tiktaalik, Adieu (2014) and Theories of Rain (2009). The Nomenclature of Small Things braids vocabularies of science and grief together; in an interview, Pedersen states, “I was interested in the patterns of grief I recognized during years of fertility issues, and I felt compelled to try to express those experiences—though there isn’t a good vocabulary for grief in today’s English language. The controlling hypothesis or goal—if I can call it that—was to see if the language of science can be used as a filter for grief.”
    Pedersen has been a Pushcart Prize and Georgia Author of the Year nominee. A playwright as well, she is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and a cofounder of the Atlanta Women’s Poetry Collective....

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