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Scheduled Induction

In three days we’ll shave away
what keeps you imaginary,
strip the cervix, break
the water—you’ll be above me,
a single-celled leaf: vascular—
you’ll be my own skin and bones,
moving on the surface
of my body, all eyes and gums:
Before you are born, I want
to say I am sorry for what collects
in me, what you will have
to clear away to find yourself born,
sorry for each chill and shake,
that we were not both made
simpler, able to pull up what we need
from the soil, to cover in shade.
For now, fit snug in me,
unbranched root of moss—You go
so well inside my torso: curled
intestine, but you are not
organ, not my organ,
my daughter. My god.

Origin Story

I was born above the Baptist church,
in the attic with all the old prayer books,
covers oiled slim, my mother stitched
my skin into a long canvas, painted
the Ohio River, a thin line down
the back of my knee, before I became
something she wound me onto a spool,
hitched to the other side of the altar,
she showed me to the congregation,
how the flesh of my stomach puckers
like a god-kiss, and that could just
be the sun over the waves, my belly
button, a barge full of coal. I became
animated, bend of my smile, a life
in the construct—the ladies down
front nodding, hats in laps—
before I learn to clasp my hands
in prayer, I am shown to the world
for what I can give it, shores upon
rocky shores, an image of beauty,
my face, this body a long portrait
of the landscape from which
it came.


Sara Moore Wagner lives in West Chester, OH with her husband and three small children. She is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Tar River Poetry, Harpur Palate, Western Humanities Review, Glass Poetry Journal, and Nimrod, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and Best of the Net. Find her at

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