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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 7: March 2021
Poem: 149 words [R]
By Rena Priest

Live Nude Girl’s Favorite Thing to Feel

 

All night, men reach up 
to touch her ankles. 
Mornings, on her stoop 
she smokes while 
the neighbor kid asks 
about all her favorite things. 

“What’s your favorite 
thing to feel?” he asks, 
holding up his softest 
blanket, giving it a rub 
between his finger 
and his thumb. 

She wants to tell him 
her favorite thing 
to feel is love, 
but keeps coming back 
to the secret she 
discovered a week ago. 

Waking in the night 
her left arm, dead asleep, 
was a limb of luscious flesh; 
foreign and remote. She used 
her working hand to lift it 
and rest it on her chest. 

The sensational feeling 
of her own sensationless skin 
surprised her. Startled, 
she thought of Narcissus 
swallowed up and drowned 
in his own sweetness. Lost. 

So soft, so soft. She never knew, 
never understood all those 
desperate reaching hands. 

 

 

—Previously published in the anthology Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington (Other Mind Press, 2015); appears here with author’s permission.

Rena Priest
Issue 7, March 2021

is a poet and a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. Her literary debut, Patriarchy Blues, was honored with a 2018 American Book Award. Her most recent collection, Sublime Subliminal, was published by Floating Bridge Press. She is the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award, and residency fellowships from Hedgebrook, Hawthornden Castle, and Mineral School. She is a National Geographic Explorer and a 2019 Jack Straw Writer. Priest has works published at Verse Daily, poets.org, Poetry Northwest, High Country News, YES! Magazine, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and lives near Bellingham, Washington.

Poet’s website: www.renapriest.com

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Canadian Tuxedo, a poem by Rena Priest in Sweet Tree Review (Volume 3, Issue 2, Spring 2018)

Flagrant Delicto in Pontoon Poetry (Issue 14, November 2018)

The Kind of Heroes We Need to Actually Save the Planet by Rena Priest in Yes! (5 November 2020), a call to action to fellow authors which begins:

Storytellers are the makers of culture and the shapers of consciousness. The word “author” is from the Latin word auctus, which translates literally to “one who causes to grow.” As storytellers, we plant beliefs that blossom into the structure of the world. In these times, we need a new structure—a narrative built on climate justice.

Reciprocity in the Age of Extinction (“After so much taking, it’s time to give”) in Nautilus Oceans (September 2020)

A captive orca and a chance for our redemption (“Tokitae has spent nearly 50 years in captivity. It’s time she returned home.”) in High Country News (April 2020), written by Rena Priest with support of the National Geographic Explorers program

 
 
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