Venus of Willendorf

by Colleen Abel

Venus of Willendorf

That which is most is most
unbearable     a body
should be a length of string
a spine a taut yard of twine
the shadow a pillar
of dark marble

Why must you speak
like that:
every dark thing
accessed, every excess

Unseemly the handfuls
of flesh

I think what you really mean

But the body
is a planet you tilt
on its axis     spinning
zero miles per hour
at the poles
a thousand 
at the sweated equatorial

Fecund as a flooded valley 
I plunder you

Ungirdle     unstone

is I am ochre-soaked


Colleen Abel is a disabled writer living in the Midwest. Her work has appeared in venues such as Lit Hub, Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, Colorado Review, PleiadesPoetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Her first poetry collection, REMAKE, won the 2015 Editors Prize from Unicorn Press. She has two chapbooks, HOUSEWIFERY (dancing girl press) and DEVIANTS, a hybrid work about stigmatized bodies that won Sundress Publications’ 2016 Chapbook Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from UW-Madison’s Institute for Creative Writing and the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. She is the Poetry Editor of Bluestem magazine and Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University.

Note: “Venus of Willendorf” is reprinted with the author’s permission from the chapbook DEVIANTS (Sundress Press, 2016).