Anna Laura Reeve

After the Abortion Rights March in Knoxville, Tennessee

In the farm incubator, chicks squirmed inside

their porous shells. Everyone knew to watch,

willing weaker ones the strength to crack their walls.

If they broke only holes, not cracks, not splitting

their shells, they’d die later, even if we broke the egg

open with our hands—so we didn’t. Is this culling?  

Orphan, refugee, opportunist, vascularity—

a brain, speaking to itself by electrical impulse—

living organism I cut to the ground as it spread

across the yard, killing trees with the dense shade

of its thirty-foot canes, hard as teeth—I tried        

to kill you, and I’m still trying. When catbird chicks

hidden in your hair fell, I set the nest on a limb,

where cats found it. Is this putting runts in a bag

with a brick to drop in the river? Tell me, since

you know so much. As a child, I watched your son

catch lightning bugs every summer dusk, and with

a hard thumb smear their lights on a sidewalk, one

after the other, painting with bioluminescence

his reasons for living his own life.

Anna Laura Reeve is the author of Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility (Belle Point Press). Winner of the 2022 Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Salamander,, and others. She was a finalist in the 2023 Greg Grummer Poetry Contest and the 2022 Ron Rash Award, and is a two-time Pushcart nominee. She lives and gardens near the Tennessee Overhill region, traditional land of the Eastern Cherokee.