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Claire Kruesel

Intrauterine device (IUD).
9 a.m., Planned Parenthood.

I come alone to give my uterus some company.
It's busy. They ask if I know what I'm getting into
(what's getting into me). Yes, I think so, says

my signature. A nurse reads it out. Now, knees
splayed, heels dug in to metal stirrups, I stare
straight up at the fluorescent sunset. I strip

the ceiling square by square for something
soothing. Petroleum jelly. A friction test, the cold
speculum hangs dull and heavy from my vulva

like the doped-up silver tongue of a mule
who accidentally found himself circled
by med school students needling to test

anesthetic. To situate the IUD properly, my
gynecologist must measure the internal geography
of my uterus. It's hard to legitimately feel violated

when the places she's probing are darknesses
even I haven't seen. After all, I have no idea
how my uterus leans: to the front, to the back;

Republican, Democrat? (Have you ever heard of
a Libertarian uterus? Its fetuses pull themselves
out by the shoulders, then up by the bootstraps).

She inserts a tool to visualize the cavern where
a baby had better not be spelunking anytime soon.
"Looks normal," she reports from the scene of the cave.

Before I can give thanks, or assess her headlamp,
a copper T is being wiggled through my cervix
like twin Subway trains down a singular passageway.

Babies dislike incubating with trains.
At least that's one theory as to how
this thing repels new life. Another is,

copper is toxic to sperm: mixes them up,
fries their egg-tennae all haywire, renders
five hundred million of the eager suckers

incompetent, like the spunk of mules,
and unwilling to ask for directions.
Sometimes, though - rarely - a baby

who knows how to share toughs it out.
I imagine this fetus clutching the IUD
like a wiry stuffed bunny (his inimical

best friend for nine months), then sliming
out with the T embedded in his forehead:
some sort of warning sign about tempting

fate, or thinking we know anything at all
about how life works (or doesn't). This baby
might become a prophet, or anti-IUD activist,

or maybe he'd open the door for his girlfriend
at Planned Parenthood; bravely hold her hand
as her gynecologist wheedles in the speculum,

followed by a copper T: ignoring friction
- choosing to trust science, just for now.


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Scientists discovered that roller dung beetles (which, along with several other species of dung beetle, belong to superfamily Scarabaeidae) orient to polarized light of the sun, moon, and also Milky Way to trace straight lines while walking backwards across otherwise featureless land. This dung-source escape route most efficiently minimizes risk of having their prize stolen.

the dung beetle:
roller, tunneler, dweller.
three little piggies went to market:
one rolled away.
one dug straight down.
one stayed there.
the roller rolls its heavy sphere along gravity's edge, guided by burning inverse black holes that float.
the illusion of lightness.
the illusion of emptiness.
the illusion of a hole as knowledge.
pinpricks in black as a map worth following.
circle of dung as geometry of promise.
polarized light moves in circles we can't see.

but they can.  the roller dung beetle backtracks
to his future, shit in a hole with a seed in it, a wheelbarrow
on hands with rolling feet, his straight line intersecting circles
of the sun,
of the moon,
the wild line of the milky way.

II. pigs are not dirty animals.
nor dumb. some built a house
with mud and straw.

rolling in mud does not make you dirty.
or dumb. the universal misunderstanding
of brownness
can be taken as advantage

for those willing to look backwards.

at nature camp, we study animal tracks,
scat. I squat over the lesson plan, learn
by looking.                                                    coprophagia
rabbits eat their waste.
"They didn't get all of it the first time,"
my mother explained.
"All of what?"                        she says nevermind, focus on
the feet they stamp in snow. she gives me
a silver cartouche, symbols on the back. I cannot decipher
name, just a royal greeting, the sterling curlings melted
somewhere into a new shape, precision of these syllables
too fine to leave their signature in the snow. it is easier
to spot the knowledge they'll come back for.

Here, doggy doggy doggy
the three-headed
Cerberus         I just want to pet you

in paintings
ravenous teeth, hollow eyes carved
into stone, painted red always
in a painting
circa 1440,      Jesus sits
white sphere,
egg siphoned
out the yolk
so it can float           light
above Hellmouth
red, teeth
lashing tongues
for the knowledge
of those who ate
the whole egg

VI. we all know about the apple               that danger is a rib that learned
and eden, how knowledge is                                     to whisper into muscle
ripeness of a woman and                                           to dislocate its hips

meat is muscle is red from heme
iron machine mitochondria motion
the opposite of dead

un-ritual          cannibalism
of necessity is not like
ritual               cannibalism
of intrigue like how

you are what you eat

like how          the doctrine
of signatures
prescribed       walnuts for
brain fissures
not like
the ancient egyptians
forged a tool, threaded
the brain         through the nostrils

and didn't eat it

(didn't send it in jars
to Hellmouth, either
left it, garbage
for the dogs)

your little brother
ate dog poop once
when he was two
he got smarter so
it worked. I aimed
in a cup and drank, chewed
my scabs
cured clotting factors
what could I learn
from myself

X. anubis
was a dog who could stand
over mummies
oversaw the embalming
ensured their hearts were ready
prepared, stonewared, jackal headed
for weighing against
the feather

XI.                                                         XII.
skeletal muscle                                     heavy dense heap of shit
we cannot control                               head-high, engineered
chambers sealed                                  in a story
stick in your hand
on themselves repeatedly                   with a glove or without
with just enough room                       root around wet for clues
to breathe, the color                           about filling in the blanks

a secret that keeps itself         of dinosaurs
when it's cut open                              with frogs

They are there in the hundreds, large and small, of every sort, shape and size,
hastening to carve themselves a slice of the common cake.
-Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915), French entomologist, on dung beetles

for my 13th birthday, my father
gives me a scarab, carved pale
green ceramic. its back split

blind to the skies, glued down
wings, belly flat to make a seal
with ink, neo-paper, red clay.

this is where figures are
hidden. I read meaning
into pictures, the beetle

itself a sound stuck in
muck. feather, river,
basket, some obscured

white space devolves
to relief, our fingers
read the ground for dots

find a straight line while
our skin feels light, our
eyes weigh what we see

a name pressed in mud
recycled initials waiting
a baby eating its way

out from underground

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