Detail of "Peromedusae. - Talchenquallen" by Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.


We tend to our roles like we tend to a fire,
poking the coals with the blazing tip of an iron.

The head of a woman occasionally produces more heads.
The body of a woman is the source of all our breaths.

See Also: The naming of riverbanks.
See Also: Nature’s tendency to cleave.

There is a difference between the qualities
we inherit and the qualities of instinct.

The brain with its many folds looks like it’s squeezing itself.
Its mouths are puckered and waiting to be unlocked with a kiss.

An organ of the body is regarded as the source
of nourishment for the next corresponding organ.

How we feed on each other for ourselves.
How we keep ourselves alive through each other.

You are the living tissue beneath the bark of a cork oak.
You are a ship grained with the grooves of trees.

Tiana Nobile

Tiana Nobile is a recipient of a 2017 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award, the Lucy Grealy Prize for Poetry, and a fellowship from Kundiman. A finalist for the National Poetry Series and Kundiman Poetry Prize, she is the author of The Spirit of the Staircase (2017), and her poetry has appeared in Poetry Northwest, The New Republic, Hyphen Magazine, and the Texas Review, among others. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. For more, visit