July/Aug 2016 • Vol. XXXVIII No. 4 Poetry |

The Whole

The surgeon peels the man away from the man to get a look at the whole throbbing thing of him. The slick little change purses, the seaweed. His featherless birds moistly dreaming. The rubied globes, but also the mossy blades and edges. The rotting branches hanging low with soggy leaves. And then one velvet tail curled around a pulp-pink stone, right next to the fetal totalitarians, their shallow breathing. The sticky eyelids of a forgotten kitten. And that girl at Woodstock—too young to be there, it seemed—lost in the rainstorm in the dark among the demons, so that the faster she ran the faster the tentacles sprang out of the mud to snag her ankles. Her skinny thighs, slippery with blood and spit. The rose bloated in the bowl at the center of the great-aunt's table. A cockroach crushed beneath the bridegroom's heel. A pearl fallen off the wedding dress, swallowed by a baby girl. The stippled button, snipped from the suit coat of the eldest son in his coffin,

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.
Laura Kasischke has published eight collections of poetry. She received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2011 for Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon). She teaches at the University of Michigan.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.