two poems

by Randi Clemens

Science and Industry

In this exhibit, these walls,
this body: the unborn curl.
I trace my fingers along
them, the unspined, unheld,
unseeing behind viewing glass.

I want them to know me, to sing
out to me, and they almost do.

They long for the pointed breasts
of the diagram, the ones that look
like mine when I’m bare, to touch
skin instead of silica.

Here I think about my grandmother,
her eyes melon-balled out after
death, too bad for use. Here, babies
float in their man-made amniotics.

I want to look up the definition
of donation. I want to know who
spelled fate for fetus, for eyes.
I want these small bundles
of cells to know, to see so much

that I almost hear them call to me—
almost hear them call me mother.



I feel it in my organs
when a baby cries. All the blue-
green bar soap curling
through my teeth,

all the things I want
to say out loud and can’t.
When we twist, nucleic,
we think about what might come.

My chest will swell,
ribs dislocate, skin
stretching and screaming
veins—so red and so blue.

But your body shrivels
in sadness. A brain who bears
what you do would be too much
to bear. Eyes green, bottles orange.

Sometimes I believe
I am only a machine.
Gears continuously oxidizing
can only create faulty products.

Maybe if I want and wish
hard enough, maybe if we scrub
ourselves so clean, we can
make something beautiful.

Maybe nothing at all
will happen, but just think
about all that could. Think of lemon
flavored candy—so sweet and so sour.

Randi Clemens is a north central Illinois native and a current MFA poetry candidate at Northern Michigan University. At NMU she teaches composition and serves as Associate Poetry Editor for Passages North.

Artwork by: Bailey Heedick