Whereas the word must propagate itself to become world, but in so doing clarity gives way to subtlety, as field grows its definition, becoming both thing and concept, land and figure;

Whereas the world itself propagates, animals making more of themselves, and trees and ideas and nouns with them, and it all spreads like the shade before a hurricane, blacking out what was once something, now something else;

Whereas even human might be misinterpreted;

Whereas in the joist of your hip I can see where you took on flesh—you who were once thunder, pure sound awaiting the light, eager to mark distance—a signal sounding more like warning;

Whereas I, too, was once other, my lumbering Kodiak claws sometimes still visible beneath the soft moons of my nailbeds;

Whereas every woman who wakes in the night a fox knows she is not alone, but is nevertheless surprised she was not made iron or stone;

Whereas the realization of another’s secrets raises the hackles like an oncoming storm, and we all fear ourselves known;

Therefore we remind you that, words having become too unwieldy for self-defense, the fear of claws leads inevitably to the bearing of claws.


Brianna Noll’s first book, The Price of Scarlet, was the inaugural poetry selection for the University Press of Kentucky’s New Poetry and Prose Series and is forthcoming in Spring 2017. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring in the Honors College at UIC, and she serves as Poetry Editor of The Account, which she helped found. Her poems have recently appeared in The Georgia Review, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Hunger Mountain, and the Kenyon Review Online.


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