Three Prose Poems
Part of a collection on identity, queerness, body horror, and existentialism.
Quinn Rennerfeldt is a queer poet, parent, and partner earning her MFA at San Francisco State University. Their heart is equally wed to the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. Her work can be found in Cleaver, Mom Egg Review, SAND, elsewhere, and is forthcoming in A Velvet Giant and Salamander. They are the recipient of the 2022 Harold Taylor Prize, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Her chapbook Sea Glass Catastrophe was released in 2020 by Francis House Press. They are the Editor-in-Chief of Fourteen Hills, a graduate-run literary journal with SFSU.
Some Wound Care
The alien has three names for sadness. They live in the tear tracks on my
cheek, offer succor for my swollen head on the papery motel pillow. The alien
often wears yoga pants, and through them, I smell manuka honey and paper
pulp. Their face can’t unlock a phone. We debate the existence of souls. They
wear a watch, with a wristband woven with sinew, and teeth. They speak into
it, a susurrus sound, then hold up a hand to pause my mouth. I’m not
calling the police, they assure. Dumb dust collects and covers. The TV has a
streak of fritzed pixels; it bleeps the eyes of each newscaster. I add bleach to
the bath. We ease ourselves in, brew in the steam. We boil in something akin
At some fixed point in time—at least to my mind—we enter the orbit of a
foreign planet. It is small, rocky, blue. The ship shaves its surface like a
teardrop. The alien is an inscrutable shape in my periphery, consoling our
trajectory until we reach an adequate landing pad. We disembark down a
glossy black ramp that unfurls like a cat’s tail. My unshoed feet are
immediately covered by a cold dust. I can see tightly-coiled shrubs, the
occasional movement of a frightened creature seeking refuge from our
presence. This is a place. I can’t disagree; it has a placeness about it. A cadre
of loosely-outlined beings passes in the distance; through their figures I see stars, or perhaps they are made of the stars I see. Sameness is a contagion on
this planet’s surface. Every branch or body the same. I cannot look down at
my hands for fear I will see similarities. I feel simultaneously like this place
could be a home, or that it could be the site of viral replication. Either the end
of diachronicity, or its inception.
The ship is a spit seed flung through the sky. Stars leak past the window,
streams of milky tears from a dead cow’s eye. A question is bottled up in my
head. I repeat it again and again, until it erupts from my mouth, the barbed
inflection at the end forking like something reptilian, penetrating the air for
meaning. Logic says, you kick a dog, that dog bites you. Not, you kick a
dog, you escape retribution. I want to ask what this means, me removed
from earth, from consequences, revoked of agency. Is my ledger all good or all
guilt. What does it mean that I am constantly slabbed and reconstructed.
New identities slapped onto my body like the loose hangings on a paper doll.
And what consequences for those who determine the ‘appropriate’ outcomes? I am
belligerent, which is also when I feel most myself. Their face unchanges. We
are a theater of my dreams, in which I scream at mannequins for two solid
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