National Poetry Month Day 20: Caitlin Cowan






The president’s spiritual advisor called for the fruits
of satanic wombs to miscarry two days before I discovered
the blueberry growing in me, four days before the mothwing
of its heart stopped winking in double time. Every time
I write mothwing, someone whispers mothering, turns me
into something I am not. The stained towel strewn
on the highway is not a crane from the nearby marsh. Notice
I avoided the word stork: storks have no syrinx, which is
one way to say they have no voice. Cranes are very vocal,
like the pair I watched on TV to numb out those first weeks.
Two brothers. Everything is babies. Grief is a hollow
whose depth never changes, a perfect post hole for a fence
love wants to build but can’t. How’s this for satanic: I kept the jar
of good blood like a beating heart, let it loom like red meat
in the fridge. It was cold. I am cold. Damn the heart-shaped
teratoma they lift from a friend’s empty womb. Damn
the president. Full of teeth and hair, hers was no child
but could have been for the awe it seeded in her. It might be a letter
that never reached its destination, quite simply not carried, slipped
from the mailbag like a leaf, grown quiet as a moth’s wing
still beneath its own dust. When our letters are delivered,
in this world or another, I imagine the someone who reads them.


Photograph of Caitlin Cowan courtesy of Caitlin Cowan.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Caitlin Cowan’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Missouri Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, SmokeLong Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, and elsewhere. A finalist for the Akron Prize, Levis Prize, and Wheeler Prize in Poetry, she has won the Littoral Press Poetry Prize, the Ron McFarland Prize for Poetry, the Mississippi Review Prize, and an Avery Hopwood Award. Her work has also received support from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. She holds a PhD in English and has taught writing at the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She serves as an Associate Poetry Editor for Poets Reading the News and works, travels, and teaches for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. Find her at More from this author →