Three Poems by Tasha Cotter

A Lack of Power at the South Central Women’s Clinic

It looks like the power lines are being restored. Outside, men in hard hats dart like bats in a gray air. This time I’m not worried about my medical records or what my hypothetical political rival would leak to a hypothetical media. The man in front of me wants to know which insurance carrier is better: Humana or Anthem? There are more men than women in the office. I hate it when men are in lingerie stores, tampon aisles, and women’s clinics. It’s 2 PM on Tuesday and it’s unseasonably cold. No one wants this more than I do.

Description of a Figment and a Letter to Imagination

Where are you if not outside the enclosure?
Only figments live inside.
I am colorless and cold, I am my own figment.
–Sarah Manguso, “The Black Garden”

Small—as you would imagine.
Immaculate and white
Like a light beam of memory
Focus until I see a tiny blank
Body the size of a keyhole.
You are unspeakably clean.
So pure, I’m scared of you.
But this is where my emptiness
Goes. You are the address
I muster after sight settles down.
My body is adrift, we pace
This room. I notice someone
Faint through the wall
To wall windows.


I am told to be realistic by everyone but you and so I thank you and each piece

of dandelion wing I see in wind oddly departed from its weeping stalk. How does it feel released from cell—weaker parts get me down. You can’t be located biologically, but I say what about all those endless shivers and wakes that speak for themselves (loudly & within). Watch what you read: unreliable definitions cause panic. Think of the light as coming from within. Think hard on what you are.

She Shouts at the Absence

Go to a party of mothers and daughters.
It’s just that you are motherless.
As you listen to the sound of braiding hair,
As you listen to pepper jelly recipes
Don’t tear up.

Hold that bird your heart.

In the basement they are searching
Their skin tones for clues, propping
Themselves on beige furniture.
You pretend you’re fine, lightly laugh,
Accept wishes, whatever they are.

Talk like a cowgirl who has chased an animal
For days, in a lonesome expanse of burnt orange country.
The animal escaped, passed a point of no return.
Sit wondering how it happened.

(Cowgirl thought it wanted to stay).

Act like the blood that escapes
The bullet hole is not physical, not seen.
Dab it with a handkerchief of lace.

Tasha Cotter’s work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming in Booth, The Rumpus, Contrary Magazine, and elsewhere. Her fiction was recently nominated for a story South Million Writers award, and her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net Anthology 2011. You can find her online at



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