This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features a poem by Sarah Bartlett. 



So mom I came out
with a wallop
and was ready to live
covered in the rubies
you made
You looked at me
saw your insides
on the outside
light laid across me
like a dog on a lap
We are still working
around the extraction
its fixed point sharp
pointing north
They dug me out
so I could look back at you
It’s important to relax
into the experience
Remember how I hated
Santa’s hot red lap
the faux fur and velour
implied performance
I screamed into every photo
I can’t remember
if I ever got what I asked for
I arrived in the circle
of your arms
a witch
a wild animal
a hook
and held you there
I’m so sorry
but I cough out
uncomfortable galaxies
I cough out mirrors
I cough out your blood
I cough out your mother’s blood
I’m trying to get rid of it
Don’t you see
I’m holding all the blood
for my sisters too
their bodies always
somewhere else



Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).