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  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Bianca Braswell

Anatomical Venus

“For men to be instructed they must be seduced by aesthetics, but how can anyone render the image of death agreeable?”

-The Anatomical Venus, Joanna Ebstein

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

- Frankenstein, Mary Shelley,

I. Consider the velvet

Soft as an upturned throat,

the pearls resting like laurel

or guillotine.

What we mean to say is all manner of treasury

is a blade’s length away from merciful.

What we wanted:

our hands.

What they wanted:

apple skin mouths

that never wilted.

II. All fixture & wax & unwelcome hands.

They named us Venus. Threaded our skulls

With flaxen plaits, our faces bathed

in mouthpink light carved

into what one might call ecstasy & another

wishful thinking.

What object is not somehow woman?

They named us Venus

to know what it was like to kill

a god.

Don’t they know the sun will soon set

on their empires? Don’t they know the pillaged

have grown weary of being both altar and sacrifice,

both enemy and ornament?

All this time we played pretty vivisection

& yes, there were no more bodies

to be pilfered, to be robbed from cemeteries

the organs puckering and bloated

like the salt swollen fingers of those fine

students who watched us.

The eyes of their patient glossy

As the tongue of a day dead dog.

III. Venus (fly)

A good girl only dies

once. They say

there are many ways to skin

an apple. Meat white as snowdrop petals

or a lost finger.

Venus (trapped)

We were no one’s mother-

A mother remembers her voice

before it empties.

Venus fly trapped?

They forget themselves. Guilt

is a favorite curtain. Without rot

there is nothing to hide.

IV. We waited like good players

in their theaters. Bodies splayed

so perfectly in our almost death,

which as we all have been told

is, of course, the mother of beauty.

V. All night long we were watching.

The lone student returning

with heart long candle as if we needed it.

As if the dusty sheets of dark were not

home to us.

All night long we witnessed his bland cheeked


All night long the candle burning.

His eyes a few flickerings away from sleep.

The bright light of mars whispering through

the slats in the window.

Our hands inching ever nearer

to the scalpel.

Bianca Braswell is a Cuban-American poet currently enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she is studying English and Film studies. She has previously been published in Stark poetry journal and has work forthcoming in Mineral Lit Magazine. She is currently working on her first poetry collection.

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