Ode to my Uterus

By Katherine Flannery Dering

O river in flood season!
Wise elders notched granite pillars
to record your highs.
Sobek, Horus—the gods adored you.
Crocodiles crept and falcons flew.

O, the tantrums you threw!
—Like a child who didn’t win the prize,
you released torrents.

On an island mid-river
little girls in loose dresses
chase birds away from sown seed,
allowing them to germinate;
egrets hunt minnows
in irrigation ditches;

fishermen throw out nets
from small wooden boats
with green stripes
further out in the channel.

Raised in a deluge,
I worried about drowning,
cursed your effluent,
your stellar ability to arrive
at the most inconvenient time.
Lady parts, “that time,” 
—Mother couldn’t even name you.

No flood seasons now
—Hail Aswan—
The riverbed is dry, 
gravel and sand, prune of the plum,
and I’m doing repairs on the levees.

Still, I dream, 
of an alternate universe
where more children
catch minnows and chase birds;
more seeds germinate
and fill the land with rich fruit.


Katherine Flannery Dering has published a memoir–Shot in the Head, a Sister’s Memoir, a Brother’s Struggle; a poetry chapbook–Aftermath; and individual poems and essays in literary journals, recently in Inkwell, RiverRiver, Tilde, Cordella, and Adanna. She serves on the executive committee of the Katonah Poetry Series and lately divides her writing time between poetry, essays, and a book of short, feminist fables.

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