Archive for the 'fertility' Category

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Christine DeCamp: 5 Views of Women and Nature

Woman Incubating in Fish


Birth of a Moth

Oxum Queen of the Waters


Lady of Shalott in boat

Lady of Shalott

In her artist statement, Christine DeCamp writes: I am both a painter and a potter. My paintings have been described as “visionary” and “magical realism”. The images come from a feminine viewpoint and tell stories about the relationships between women and creatures in nature. These pieces are created in gouache and watercolor on paper, or they are acrylic on canvas–often with mixed media additions such as beading and collage. My current clay work is functional, handbuilt and handpainted pieces. I am using slab construction, fired to cone 5. Some pieces are painted with slips and oxides and carved–others are painted with layers of glazes and wax resists. The imagery is based on flora and fauna.

DeCamp’s full collection of artwork can be viewed on her website: Christine DeCamp Fine Art, Notes on her process posted here:

The Courtyard and To The Unfertilized Eggs in My Ovaries

Two Poems by Michelle Bonczek

The Courtyard

She appears from behind
a white pillar, a lamplighter
and I swear

small flames lift from her candles
like fireflies toward stars.
What she wears is not important.

She crosses the grass in the rain.
For hours I’ve watched puddles gush from the awning
of a monastery brewery. The bells won’t stop ringing.

My blood lightens with pilsner
and the fried cheese and onions remind me
of my husband’s breath, his nightmares, those spiders,

his screaming
for his mother from the center of our bed.
When I try to hold him and tell him

everything is okay, he flails, his body only
half-awake and therefore forgive-able but still
I taste iron on my lips.

Once, we crossed a threshold:
he said I hate you and I knew I would never
let him take it back. Back then,

I’d rip my bitten nails down the runway of my neck
to feel anything but what we were doing to each other.
Scars and tissues,

smashed glass, stained walls,
the crescent moon dent in the bedroom door.
Those small white scars

on his hands like ghosts
from the year he washed dishes at the Bistro.
The stink of wet clothes in front of the basement fan.

If he were here right now
we’d be feeding each other olives, pretending to be in love.
We’d be talking Kafka in Czech, I’m certain, I might

lay my head on his shoulder, in that cove the size of a fist
he said I fit perfectly, I’d be ignoring the discomfort
that came with laughter and talk of kids, anything to do

with the body felt unnatural with him,
sharpened my heart into granite. Kids,
the ones we will never have,

the ones I could never imagine into being,
not in all those years our hands held each other’s.
How I wish they could see the tree in this courtyard,

our little girls with their big brown eyes
and the rain sticking to the grass
like fire.

To the Unfertilized Eggs in my Ovaries

I am running in circles around this track that is a perfect oval, an imperfect circle like the cells on the tip of my cervix making waves, rocking my inner world with mutiny. Little eggs, this will be the second time I let doctors pry me open and go exploring with their metal spears and cotton swabs, their big eyes in search of the possible something causing havoc in an empty womb that might one day be your home. They keep it tidy in case you ever arrive. Last time this is what was found: an extended colon, an un-explainable infection in the intestine—they lasered it back into the void. No human life here. No endometriosis either. Only a surplus of slippery walls and then, scar tissue. And now, pre-cancerous cells, little houses for cancer. Look what grows in the absence of you. When I spread my legs and line my heels up with the rims of their silver stirrups I feel like I am delivering a joke. When they do what they do in there they do it for you, my dear future fertility. What does this to do with me? A woman who does not want children visits doctors who treat her body like a will. I leave you strange world, a baby kangaroo. A monkey. A pocket watch. A woman who does want children, no matter what the health of her ovaries, uterus, cervix, might never get pregnant. There are no guarantees and I’m tired of housekeeping, of making beds for no one. Life is, after all, my love loves to say, 99 percent a mystery. Little eggs, you probably know more. Little eggs, there are hundreds of thousands of you, your own colony of bumbling vessels, humming promises. One hundred years ago, you’d all be done for, proverbial sand in wind and I’d be too old to nest you. Yet today, I am told a woman who has never been pregnant faces greater risks of disease—a sentence for not becoming a mother. A body held hostage. I can’t get myself pregnant. I can barely write poems anymore. This afternoon, to relax, I made cherry shortbread cookies, cut the cold butter into the flour and sugar with two knives and a fork. Chopped the maraschinos after pulling their stems, mixed their red flesh into the breadcrumb-like mixture, added three drops of red food coloring, white chocolate chips. Pressed the dough, which looked like what I’ve seen pass out from between my legs, smooth, into a ball the size of a head, my hands aching. I cut the ball evenly into 60 pieces and rolled each onto a baking sheet, and using the bottom of a water glass, being careful not to break it, I flattened each ball into an individual pink moon, 60 perfect circles rising in my oven.

Michelle Bonczek’s poetry has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Crazyhorse, Cream City Review, Green Mountains Review, Margie, Orion, and The Progressive. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Jane Kenyon Award in poetry through Water~Stone Review. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Lebanon Valley College where she teaches poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and American Literature.

Read poetry editor Tania Pryputniewicz’s interview with Michelle here.

Missing an Umbilical and Cancer Sex

Poems by Timothy Black

Missing an Umbilical

I am under water, and my son
is underwater. His hair floats like snakes,
like a tombed medusa’s. The plunge in
erased air from every inch of him.
He tilts back, under the water, and he floats
with his belly to the bright sky. I think,
This is amazing. He looks just like an embryo.
I want to reach out and touch him,
feel his skin wrapped in water
to make sure he’s real and still mine.
His father could come at any time.
Could plunge his hand
beneath the surface and grab
for his hair, grab a handful of snakes.
My son pushes off the bottom
and breaks the surface before me.
I stay submerged,
imagining a world without him.

Cancer Sex

 On most nights we lay there
swaddled in doubt,
but not delusions.
The dark
would press in at us,
or float at the end of day
like a question mark.
On most
nights, need would still be counted
as need, met only with the clasp
of sweaty hands. I
with my penis
and she with vagina and clit
we would lie, trying to ignore
marriage’s only real mandate.
On other nights
we would cover up with quilts
and ignore the fueling
locomotive with its black,
thick smoke and iron
wanting to be released
from its sooty black birth.
I would kiss her then,
and she would kiss back-
becoming more than cancer,
at long last mindless and carnal.
At the end I would always
withdraw. Terrified
of pumping
sickness into
my barren wife.



Timothy Black’s first poetic novella, Connecticut Shade, is in its second printing through WSC Press. He teaches poetry at Wayne State College, and is a Cave Canem Fellow. He lives in Wakefield, Nebraska with his wife and two sons.

Timothy’s work has appeared in the anthologies The Logan House Anthology of 21st Century American Poetry, The Great American Roadshow, and Words Like Rain. He has been published in The Platte Valley Review and at, has poems forthcoming in Breadcrumb Scabs, Clean Sheets and Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine and has won an Academy of American Poets prize for his poem “Heavy Freight.”

Please check out what poetry editor Tania Pryputniewicz calls a “freakin’ awesome” interview with Timothy Black on She Writes.

Hands and Belly with Hands

Photos by Deb Orton

Belly with Hand


Debra Orton is a recent graduate of Stanford’s Writer’s Workshop and a past editor of “Top of the Western Staircase,” a literary publication of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her short stories have appeared in the Ranfurly Review, Melusine, and Cosmoetica. Her novel, Crossing In Time: A Love Story, is awaiting publication. She lives with her husband and three sons in Colorado.

Life and Seed

Artwork by Stephanie Tames

Life by Stephanie Tames

Life by Stephanie Tames

Seed by Stephanie Tames

Seed by Stephanie Tames


Stephanie Tames is a writer, longleaf pine needle artist, and yoga instructor living in southeastern Georgia. Her publications include Self, Parenting, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has essays forthcoming in the Nature Conservancy Magazine. She is also a regular commentator on Georgia Public Radio.)

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