"Wisdom" and "Sonohysterogram"

Growing out of his skull / like some holy weed.


Growing out of his skull
           like some holy weed. A headache

that flowered into my teens.
           Sylvia Plath, skipped class.

A Tuesday afternoon, I left

on the inside of his best rocks glass,
           a friend’s fuchsia lipstick

feathered on the rim. Our knowing
           always like that, waxy

& virginal. In time
           we would learn our gifts,

fighting, & then—
           an olive branch in tight fists.

You know, it hurts us, too, the ways
           we only exist in context—

another’s fabric, their
           accident, their grief. Sugar,

or vodka, in tap water
          to keep the lilies blooming—anxieties

of their influence
          etched in our palms, like the creases

in the chesterfields
          filling the closed circuits of our living

rooms, hidden
          & right up against the surface—DNA,

RNA, markings


I told myself it would be like taking in the sea.
Indulgent consolation. And the word was made flesh
and dwelt among us. Re-reading the Hass essay,
I understood wound, lips split open
by the water-light’s cool tongue, a toothless mouth,
or long limbs surfacing in a black pool.

The wound of the night, wrote Walser—the moon,
our beautiful word-wound. Shadow curve
of silver-white beyond grey ceiling. Such slim
company, even in the afternoon. The way she escaped
that bruised skin, scraped down the sky, baby blue,
to become my resplendent twin, a phantom comfort,

in that room, dimmed, where real light, the kind you think
you can touch, was made of ocean spray. Later made rust
on the doll-sized panty liner, a mess of the saline
and iodine seeped back into the world, mud damp
over the pattern of violets, a different kind
of constellation on the screen. Days before, the final release

of my long-awaited blood, tapering grainy and black
in the toilet bowl, a perfect springtime soil. Now
my body gave nothing, the familiar brown-red
on the speculum and catheter and probe
not work I could lay claim to, the mocking doubled mess
of the iodine’s quick cleanse, faltering promise

of the left ovary, its too few follicles, and the final light
of air, though only one tube would take it, puff up proud
and promising, if yet alone. See? See?

About the author

Annick MacAskill (she/her) is the author of three poetry collections, the most recent of which, Shadow Blight (Gaspereau Press, 2022), won the Governor General's Literary Award for English-Language Poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals across Canada and abroad, and in the Best Canadian Poetry anthology series. She lives in Kjipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia), on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq.