Whitney Kerutis
On Hunger and Birthing

What could this body be for, having first realized it as ghost
kept in a home that only echoed familiar—howl of retracing
to find what isn’t there, I gather into a hard mass in the gut; being

sent to bed as a girl without my dinner and feeling my body
press inward the excess of flesh until I am small and boned;

No way to be dissolved.

          But then, the years get into it.

The thick of learning to live in the middle school locker room,
I am harsh on the return, bounced off the concrete walls and
clattering metal as a question the other girls answered loud

          and louder still, to make oneself impenetrable.

I take off the excess.

Shed skin and clothing to fit around another like an upside-down flower
dying in its living shape. To be a woman begins with learning
how to move around other objects undetected.

Yes, I am talking here of body as splitting fault in the landscape,
as the water that fills its wounds deceivingly whole.

If I am too casual with my lovers it is because I have already been carved out.
My body, given negative space for another to occupy; The men whose needles slip

in through clothing at the same time they are exiting, and the small seeds
I grow and push out as one horrible cry.



Whitney Kerutis is a poet from Arizona now residing in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She is Founder/Editor in Chief of GASHER Journal and is a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. She received her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder where she served as Poetry Editor of Timber Journal. She is the 2018 poetry winner of the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award. Her work has appeared in journals such as Colorado Review, Bayou Magazine, Breakwater Review, and others.