by Nora Cox

at school we follow directions. or project that we do.

we held her down at our desks. each with a different she.
said there was nothing to fear. they were brought in
already dead.

most of us wrung our hands, gulped.

wondering how they died. put in pots of different shapes and sizes, with
water heating ever so slightly but steadily. to see how they jump or run.

in this scenario, all shes will jump of their own volition. we can’t
catch them. they’re already gone. spread throughout the island.

a simple experiment: dissect the she / frog.

 a diagram is provided.

we are working in reverse. trying to imagine the life of the
beating heart of an amphibian. (“the skull beneath the skin.”) 

I don’t believe these shes can be put back together again. 


we were given gloves. most of us looked at each other, dumbfounded.
unable to continue. or even begin.

some left the room.

on the desks each of us gets an instrument. dig in. begin.
first one in a rotten egg, a big stinker.

a raised pin. I closed my eyes, descended. accidentally
into this one’s eye. plugged, but no blood.

I couldn’t go on. a pharos, a ventriloquist to speak for me.

in three minutes this would all be over. but they wanted to
take a photo.

multiple shes posed. in the foreground, glistening. some of us, in the
background, so pleased we split our sides.


Nora Cox grew up in Indiana but has spent the last several years in Colorado, where she earned her MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University. A former teacher, Nora now works at Denver Public Library as a librarian. Her poems have appeared in Cliterature and Boned.