Valerie Wetlaufer


Listen to Valerie Wetlaufer read her piece:

Our fascination with nature and the natural form :
fashion moved beyond feathers
(Your wedding brooch
made from the talon of a falcon.)
to other parts of bird anatomy and eventually
the entire bird.

My best lines to you are composed on vellum, the skin of a stillborn lamb.
I scrape the hide clean,
remove the hairs and rub it smooth with pumice.
Then washed, dressed with chalk and finished
with a lime wash. This parchment is known
for the absence of imperfection.

You press yourself tightly to me. Whalebone corsets keep us erect.
Breath escapes. All I smell
is hollow bones and flight.


Valerie Wetlaufer is a birth doula, poet, Poetry Editor of Quarterly West, and a doctoral fellow at the University of Utah. She has published two chapbooks, Scent of Shatter (Grey Book Press, 2010) and Bad Wife Spankings (Gertrude Press, 2011). For more information, visit
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí