Photograph by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Bio: Michelle Bitting was short-listed for the 2020 Montreal International Poetry Prize, the 2021 Fish Poetry Contest judged by Billy Collins, and a finalist for the 2021 Coniston Prize. She won the 2018 Fischer Poetry Prize, Quarter After Eight’s 2018 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest, and a fourth collection of poetry, Broken Kingdom won the 2018 Catamaran Prize and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2018. In 2021, her manuscript Nightmares & Miracles won the Wilder Prize and will be published by Two Sylvias Press in 2022. She has poems published in The American Poetry Review, Narrative, The Los Angeles Review, Rattle, Thrush, Vinyl Poetry, The Paris-American, Love's Executive Order, The Raleigh Review, Plume, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. New poems are found in Air/Light, The Night Heron Barks, The New Guard/BANG!, Sugar House Review, Radar Poetry, Limp Wrist, SWWIM, and Pine Hills Review. She was a finalist for the 2020 Reed Magazine Edwin Markham Prize, as well as the 2019 Sonora Review and New Millennium Flash Prose contests. Michelle is a Lecturer in Poetry and Creative Writing at Loyola Marymount University and Film Studies at U of Arizona Global.
Braided Fugue State #4 (The Mothering)
I’ve been here before, in the backseat Of a blue station wagon—or am I driving? At thirteen, our son reached the decision Not to go on. Somewhere around the old parish grounds. My father’s in the car though I cannot see him. I’m retiring our son said, and found A length of rope coiled in the garage. The car won’t budge. I’m on an impossibly steep hill. Strapped in, upside-down. A stuck roller coaster. Behind the house, our son stared at the slope. I said: It’s too severe to climb and covered in ivy. Click, click, click of gears underneath. My body Making a 90 degree angle between sky and ground. He wanted to make a ladder of the rope— Use it to scale the insane green façade. I’m paralyzed, can’t breach the summit—a bug On a wall to be swatted—the sheerest plummet. When he got to the top he stood, defiant, straight up. Fists and eyes raised, screaming into the blue.