The 2River View 25.2 (Winter 2021)

Rachel Stempel

Good Bone

a good bone broth disorients.
a good bone broth makes what’s dead more
dead & erases the animal that once was
from memory. a good bone broth brews

in your mouth as you read this. you can feel it
collect in almost-cavities, simmering
on low heat. your teeth, perfectly
sized ladles. a good bone broth is

distance. with the flesh peeled back
there’s room to indulge in what once was.
your mouth knows the final set of molars
pay homage to the animal.

you smile: it’s the closest you get to being
outside yourself. your wisdom teeth are
anything but, but they are
bouillon cubes, cleaving.

i hear a dentist becomes a dentist when he fails culinary school.

Stillwater Threats

My house was built elevated. I thought better of myself then. My house was built on failed foundations—like all good origin stories: swollen. Waterlogged & no longer skeletal. The frame, bloating, is fed well / is stoic. Wet wood flakes like yeast, like rusting underwire: several failed foundations at once. When you anger a mother

she turns her neck. She breaks it with a strength only a mother has. When you anger a mother, she punctuates the papers. She punctuates—with chrome-lined billabong—the driveway.

The cul-de-sac offers endless dead ends.

Stillwater threatens my energy level. To irrigate is irritating so stagnant I stand, toe-dip to dive into pools, abandoned. Where has their mother gone—

their mother, a river meander, takes care not to upset her sleeping
diversions. Their mother, a river meander, leaves me
in charge.

My house is far from a tipping-point but as a mother I’m not. I want
my adopted diversions to have their fill.

Rachel Stempel is a queer poet, educator, and staff writer at Up the Staircase and EX/POST MAGAZINE. Their work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Nasiona, Penn Review, Porter House Review, and elsewhere.

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