Field Notes on the Flatworms of the Chesapeake Bay [Rosemary Kitchen]

We know, from science-based
observation, the flock
of microscopic magic carpets
floating between blades of eelgrass
in the lower Chesapeake
will soon fence each other
for the entitlement of being left
unpenetrated, the tips
of their shafts smacking together
like rapiers. This is how
the transgender species guarantees
its diversity: the vulnerable
worm is injected with sperm,
carries a fetus, becomes mother.
Each father will continue to parry
other partners until inseminated.
We watch for evidence—base labels
around levels of aggression—let
womanhood mean wounded ones.
Soon, even the brutal
must nurture their young.


Currently a PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Rosemary Kitchen holds an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. Her poems have been published in several print and online publications, including Hunger Mountain, Tinderbox, Cimarron Review, and Gulf Coast.

Inspiration: The poem, which uses found language, strives to take a scientific approach to questions of masculinity and the abuse of strength and power, which have been so prevalent in recent news cycles.


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