Two Poems by Alyse Bensel

Two Poems by Alyse Bensel

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Reproduction Theory

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 BenselAlyse 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.

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