My reproduction remains at zero, a natural selection I selected for myself.
I watch nature documentaries that explain the difference between survivorship patterns.
R species: the ones who produce cheap young in mass quantities. Most will not last.
For example, newly hatched sea turtles, spider babies the size of dust motes. Or the Sopa pipa,
her kite-shaped body a porous vessel for fertilized eggs that embed inside her
pockmarked back. Her young leave when full miniatures of their mother. She is both god
and the unstable world. If she dies, they die, too underdeveloped to survive alone. I have witnessed
a mother opossum clenching the air with her claws, her naked offspring spilling out of her pouch. If I could,
I would swirl my babies around my mouth, then nestle them inside my large pores, their breath my breath,
until they are grown. Since I am not willing to part with them, they must never exist.
I have already begun mourning their absence.
Gem and Mineral
I worship the earth through curated stones, some semiprecious, others common as gravel.
I graze my tongue over quartz like it is a salt lick. To be vegetable and mineral, barely animal. To be
rhizomatic: reducible to neither the one or the multiple. I hold a rock as if it is not a weapon. I evolve
sedentary, lichen thinning my stalactite arms that cradle other stones like lost children,
stumbling blocks that multiply for filling up clear plastic pencil tubes capped with erasers.
These are my weathered commodities I will not use but will stow away. I am selfish
enough to keep time locked in my desk drawer, keeping everything I love even from myself.
Alyse Bensel is a Ph.D. fellow in literary studies and creative writing at the University of Kansas. Her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New South, Pleiades, Poetry International, South Dakota Review,and elsewhere. The author of two chapbooks, Not of Their Own Making (dancing girl press) and Shift (Plan B Press), she serves as the book reviews editor at The Los Angeles Review.