Parthenogenesis – a poem by Ray Ball and Caroline Streff


She crept beneath the leaves, her body a shadow of running water.
Calling on Saint Anne she manifested her own miracle.
Her lashing muscles smoothed the earth, her waters crisped the hanging air.
………………..The hovel, remade in her image, became a bower.
She tasted the fire from the kiln between her rows of teeth.
Her blood upon the earth called for heaven’s reply,
………………..and the moon descended.
The watery orb burst upon her tongue and three hatchlings fell,
into the cradle of heaped up stones.
One of her children — one of her selves —
………………..did not survive. And she lamented.
But the world exhaled a celebratory prayer:
one fewer heav(enl)y body with distinctive marks
to twine around a stranger’s leg.
One fewer set of sharpened teeth
to sink themselves into a stranger’s heel.



Caroline Streff is a recent graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has been pursuing poetry in earnest for the past year and a half, investigating themes of family, ecology, and space. Her work has recently appeared in Alaska Women Speak, Anchorage Press, and Human/Kind Journal. She has been nominated for Best of the Net.

Ray Ball grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history professor and an editor at Alaska Women Speak. Her chapbook Tithe of Salt came out with Louisiana Literature Press in the spring of 2019, and she has received nominations for Pushcart and Best of the Net. Ray has recent publications in descant, Gingerbread House, and Psaltery & Lyre. You can find her in the classroom, in the archives, or on Twitter @ProfessorBall.

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