by Katie Sarah Zale


—acrylic sculpture at Northwind Art, Port Townsend, Washington


A serpentine root made its way through nettle and mustard bloom
to the middle of his garden. He cut it out and made it her spine.

He built her from scratch with his own hands, beyond myth and rib.

Handles of knives formed her ribs. Lead balls from a musket, her eyes.
A metal fold, her nose.

For shoulders, he gathered shells, whole and still clinging to their color.
For breasts, he filled bags of muslin with sand that survived the outgoing tide.

Rose petals wrapped around berries are lips to hide an absent tongue.

Venus de Milo he called her, and gave her no arms.
He built for her a place—a marble stand. She has no need of legs.

He poured acrylic for her skin. He carved a brick wall with a stylus
along her hips and up her sides. To keep her in, he says to those who ask him why.

People talk with her for hours. She speaks of doors with locks, of fettered feet,
of closets and towers and veils, and cuts to clitoral pleasure.

Then—or so it seems—with the lift of her chin and twist of her root,
she talks about wind and chrysalis wings. She talks about cocoons.

Katie Sarah Zale has published four collections of poetry. Her most recent, The Weight of a Leaf, came out in 2024 (Kelsay Books). Katie is president of the Arizona State Poetry Society, as well as co-founder and program director of the Tucson Arts Poetry Reading Series (TAPS).