Options for Penance | Hannah Dow

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Hannah Dow is the author of Rosarium (forthcoming from Acre Books, 2018). She received her PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers, and her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Pleiades, North American Review, Ninth Letter, and Cincinnati Review, among others. She reads poetry for Ploughsharesand is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Memorious: A Journal of New Verse and Fiction. She lives in Southern California. 



I haven't yet learned to fold myself
into something small and quiet enough 
to be desired—like an oyster's pearl,

an origami bird—Eve's
apple. Had the garden belonged
to her, the world might be safe

enough for a woman to roam
alone without being picked
clean of every good, soft thing

inside her. Instead, she learns
to harden around her body,
to understand beauty as cruelty,

that even a pearl is birthed from
a body’s defense of its parasites.