Kate O'Donoghue is a recent graduate of Muhlenberg College, where she now works as the Assistant Director of the Writing Center. She is the winner of the Isabel Sparks President's Award for Original Poetry at the 2017 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention and a 2017 Fellow of the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets. Her poetry has appeared in See Spot Run, The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and elsewhere.

Kate O'Donoghue

A Little Girl Wakes Up on a Conveyor Belt

eyelids sticky two lids of empty jam jars yawn sticky I, jam jar, am & sleepy like hot rubber burns tummy pressed to sticky warmth of rubber belt like naked tummies of conveyor belt friends girls, me hot in here in machine mother we burn thick & sticky hot iron against girl burn eyes in girl burn eyes on girl burn there is a man stroking & pulling machine like dream of machine perfect machine making little girl bodies & watching burning in burning I sleep warm in machine with new little girl body & words arm nose leg tummy private parts parts & names made in factory like strawberry jam with sugar & corn mother machine teach me good the world teach me good the names of bodies & men teach me good the sleeping make easy the sticky smell burning the rubber in little girl nose

This poem is one in a series that encounters a little girl doing and saying extraordinary things. The project became the perfect excuse to finally write the poem I've been envisioning and dreading in turns: the poem that examines and empathizes with the systematic homogeneity of girlhood. Whose job is it to tell a girl who she is? Who names her parts? Related tidbits: years ago, I read a friend's poem in our campus magazine about a girl being assembled. Years later, in a lecture on language, my neuroscience professor claimed that "fact" and "factory" have the same etymological origins. Origins are dangerous things, I think. Especially when we can claim the same kinds of drowsy beginnings.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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