Writers' Corner

Rebecca Dunham

2007 Poetry

Author's Statement

Since becoming a mother, I've grown to appreciate the act of writing in a new way. I now feel an incredible sense of gratitude whenever I shut the door and sit down at my desk, alone, to write -- an emotion which lends my writing a new sense of energy and urgency, I believe. I am profoundly grateful to the judges for honoring my work with an NEA grant. The money from this grant will enable me to carve out more time for my work by releasing me from teaching obligations and allow me to complete my current manuscript, Aviary. The poems in this collection explore the tension between individualism and interdependence in both historical and contemporary women's lives, focusing particularly on the life and writings of early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

"Extremity"


             "Study of God the Father," 1555-1560


His hands rubbed blood-
bright, Primaticcio struggled

to bring forth a man in his own
image, the kind of monster
who'd hoard holy relic & limb.

These nine muscled arms all
that he could manage.

A hand surfaces, wrist up,
palm flat as a waiter's beneath                                  
his dinner-laden tray. Like

a worm chopped to pieces,
caught & scattered, the segments
curve amid death's                                   
throes on his pinked tablet.

Faith is a grisly contest.

This portrait devours sight.
Eyes awash in the body's
red, it casts itself over my retinas --
phantom green flood, a prayer
to ligament & gristled limb.

The hand makes the man.
I recognize him:

God the Braggart, God the Afflicted,
God who Holds-the-Line.
God the Tempter.
His fingers reach for mine.