Size / / /

Content warning:


PRELUDE

IN THE CRUST DIRT IN WILLENDORF CAN YOU BELIEVE THEY FOUND ME I WAS SO CAREFUL TO HIDE MYSELF FROM PRYING EYES AND HANDS PRYING TOOLS AND MACHINES I WAS SO CAREFUL TO SHRINK TO IMPROBABLE SIZE MY BODY COLLAPSING INTO THE PRIMORDIAL OOZE BENEATH THE SURFACE OF EARTH CRADLED FINALLY IN THE DIRT BREATH OF MY MUD MOTHER AND SHUT MY EYES FROM THE LIGHT. YET I WOKE AND ROSE ABOVE WORSHIPED KEPT THRALLS  WORSHIPED  EYES  HANDS  LIPS ON  THE  HARD  COMPLEXITY OF MY
IMPOSSIBLE                                                                                     FORM

I am Venus of Willendorf! Excavated—
Held by a white man’s hand

and he chose not to crush me
Taken home I was silent the whole way

until now I was silent.
I have been handled by many many

very very smart white men over the years
They poke and prod and wonder

about my inception, incubation
Some say I am not an idol at all

My name is Venus, still,                                                  despite their best attempts.

What cosmic event crafted
Little lumpy me

Why was I carved, who did the carving
Who is my Mother

It is elusive
And it escapes definition

Still they question why I exist
Who I exist for—

How I exist
Whose hands did I come from?

Existentialism is imposed upon me,                                        despite my best attempts.

The Argument (liminal spaces)

In the room with the pink shag carpeting the mirror and the vaulted golden ceilings a body sprawls in pieces, a collage of crushed chalk and crushed glass. The ivory cherub-hands that suspend the mirror frame in perfect alignment bleed profusely over the carnage. Disembodied
wails cut through the thick silence from the cracked bits of broken fetish. Humid fog pushes the glaze of bitter sanguine and the stench of black bile through the room, settles over the floor like a blanket, raises heat waves from the golem organs scattered about. Puddles of melting plasma and lymph collect from the dust, where the Venus Limbs lay, waiting for a woman to walk over, footsteps leaving sparkling, wet impressions in the carpet, stare deep into the puddles, to pick up the pieces of shattered limestone and hold them, to pick up the pieces of shattered limestone and use the glass as a tool, to carve bodies into the pieces of stone, to become a new mother, to birth more Venus femmes from the death of this Venus femme, to bury them in the mud, to hide them from

 

men
The Surgeon is gone.                                                    The Insurance Agent is gone.

 

Mother

 

The Argument IV: single case agreement

Waltz or tango, tap or jazz
Either way is good and fine

Because now, you can move, you can
Dance, you run and fall and when you

Fall, you lay on your back and
Gaze at the pink and gold sky

Venus leans, weary, on the thick plastic trunk of a vacuum and wipes sweat from their brow. The pink shag carpet sparkles with twenty five thousand shards of broken mirror glass and the cleansing has only just begun. Their limbs drip liposuction fluid and The Surgeon is bound by hands, chest and feet atop a fleshy fainting couch. He is not gagged. He instructs Venus softly on how to navigate this relationship with their new body. Venus listens to his voice like music and continues the process of mechanical inhalation, hearing the glass rupture further, clinking and grinding like bone. Smiles all around, they step, they bleed, and vacuum the blood. They step, they bleed, and vacuum the blood. They step, they bleed, and vacuum the blood. Never before has their body felt so light, as though one step would send them springing through the gold ceiling, vaulted no longer, but open, and Venus could sail toward their planet, free from bodily reconstruction, free from compression, oppression and pressing fingers.

CONCLUSION

THE HARD COMPLEXITY OF MY IMPOSSIBLE FORM PLACED UPON THE WALL PLACED UNDER WHITE LIGHTS AND YELLOW LIGHTS PLACED UPON PINK COUCHES SCIENTIST MEN LOOK AT ME AND PROUD FEMMES SEE THEMSELVES REFLECTED IN ME FROM ONE WORSHIPER TO THE NEXT GO I, TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND YEARS AGO I WAS HAILED AS A GODDESS AND NOW I AM HAILED AS A MYSTERY DO THEY REALIZE THEY NEVER GOT IT RIGHT COULD NEVER TITLE ME WITH ACCURACY MY BODY IS THE MOST SACRED CURIOSITY OF ALL TIME  I  WILL  NEVER   BE  FIXED  AND  I  WILL  NEVER  HIDE  AGAIN  FOREVER  ON  DISPLAY
YOU MUST NOT LOOK AT HER YOU               LOOK TOO MUCH AT       HER

I am Venus of Willendorf!
Adored—

Held only by the warm hands of
Museum curators, artists, they will not crush me

I am too precious
I need not be silent any longer

So I will never speak again my words are my own
My time and my life and my body are my own

I own.

We have been through a lot together.
Artists are gentle and I am soft

Auf                                                                                    Wiedersehn

 

 

[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Mab during our annual Kickstarter.]



Jie Cohen is a mixed, intersex creator whose work has been recognized or is forthcoming in The Minnesota Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Sycamore Review, NAT-BRUT, POETS.org, and others. They have received support from Kenyon Review. Their poem “THE FUTURE” was selected for The Best of the Net 2023 Anthology.
Current Issue
15 Apr 2024

By: Ana Hurtado
Art by: delila
I want to sink my faces into the hot spring and see which one comes out breathing. I’m hoping it’s mine.
Mnemonic skills test positive: inaccurately positive.
pallid growths like toadstools, / and scuttling many-legged things,
Issue 8 Apr 2024
Issue 1 Apr 2024
Issue 25 Mar 2024
By: Sammy Lê
Art by: Kim Hu
Issue 18 Mar 2024
Strange Horizons
Issue 11 Mar 2024
Issue 4 Mar 2024
Issue 26 Feb 2024
Issue 19 Feb 2024
Issue 12 Feb 2024
Issue 5 Feb 2024
Load More
%d bloggers like this: