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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Featured Artist
Issue 8: June 2021
Prose Poem: 225 words
By Claire Bateman

Metaphorically Speaking


A fluency of bathwater with a fleet, a flurry, an extravagance of babies ricocheting off each other like pool balls run amok: babies bald or fully-fluffed or with downy eaglet hair. The babies are dense and compact, the bathwater’s frothy; the babies are uncouth, the bathwater’s refined with fragrant spices wasted on the babies, and lily pads bearing jeweled frogs whose emerald-studded hides the babies long to gum, but the frogs are ever escaping while the babies’ mouths itch and burn, so what’s their only option for relief? It’s certainly the soap, that lonesome bar bobbing in the suds with ridges to prove it’s already been tried and rejected, forgotten, sighted and gripped, bitten then dropped anew in an orgy of intermittent object retention as babies and bathwater bubble and bloom together, the babies steeping like plump little teabags, their fingers wrinkled, their toes wrinkled, even their belly buttons wrinkled, both innies and outies, for the babies were born drown-proof; they got buoyancy for their superpower as they came up through the drain in reverse-whirlpools piped in from some foamy subterranean wonderland, but somewhere amidst the mess, the mass, the mightily whipped-up mousse of froth and motion, in the eldest of babies something is breaking through: a bud—a milk tooth—a single incisor, the first of their classic labors in the world.

—From the author’s forthcoming collection, Wonders of the Invisible World

Claire Bateman
Issue 8, June 2021

is the author of Wonders of the Invisible World (forthcoming from 42 Miles Press) and eight other poetry collections, including most recently, Scape (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2016) and Locals: A Collection of Prose Poems (Serving House Books, 2012). She has been awarded fellowships from the NEA and the Tennessee Arts Commission, and has received the New Millennium Writing Award (twice) and two Pushcart Prizes. She has taught at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Clemson University, and various conferences, including Bread Loaf and the Bloch Island Poetry Festival.

Author’s blog: Claire Bateman New Art and Writing

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