Carley Moore


What You Do

You take a class.

You spend several afternoons trying to get a straight answer from your insurance company.

You learn how to give yourself shots.

They take your blood.

Your mother comes to visit.

You stop having sex.

You drink a lot of water.

You look at your embryos on a computer screen.

You decide to freeze some.

You’re not sure what else you would do. Not freeze them?

You talk lucidly about the surgeon’s son’s chances of getting into a top-tier college during the implantation.

You sort of think, “Why the fuck are we talking about this now?” But you keep talking about it.

You finally get to pee in a bedpan. The nurse pretends to be cool about it, but you can tell she’d rather you held it.

You hold hands.

You like it quiet.

The other couple talks a lot.

You know that this much waiting makes people crazy.

You yourself are crazy with hope.

You go home.

You have fears.

You do the shots.

You wait for the call.

You feel something.

Your mother leaves.






“A mirror walks down a road.”
-Kenneth Gross, “Fables for a Puppet Theater,” Puppet: An Essay on
Uncanny Life

A mirror walks down a road.
The sun beats down on her, but she keeps going.
Flash. Flash.
She is a reflection of the woods—
of sticks and dirt, trees and leaves,
and of hungry animals who wait, forage, and hunt.
But she is also her own true thing, shiny in her subjectivity.

The mirror walks down the road.
She pulled herself out of the compact,
escaped from the bathroom,
and ran out through the narrow door of the hag’s camper.
But even though she’s free,
she must carry with her the memory of the hag’s face—
the deep wrinkles, the constellation of moles around the chin,
the beard, and the flat gray-green eyes,
which remind the mirror of freshly-poured cement.

One mirror walks down one road.
She’s trying to see herself, but it’s hard without another mirror.
The mirror angles herself, her difficult shape, towards the sun.
Flash. Flash.
She dreams of flint against steel, the slow-moving catch and urge to burn.
She wants to singe the trees, smoke the air, and shake the animals loose.
The mirror thinks about her favorite movies, Carrie and Firestarter.
She remembers sitting on the couch with the hag,
waiting for these girls to combust, to ignite the world,
and make it into a stage for the purist kind of rage.
She remembers the sight of the hag’s molars as she threw
back her head to laugh and take a drag off of her joint.

The sun is, as always, indifferent,
and the mirror can’t hold herself up for long enough to make any heat.
She manages to startle a nightingale on a low branch, before giving up.
Flash. Flash.
The bird takes off, catching a glimpse of herself—her plain brown feathers—
in the surface of the mirror.

The mirror remembers the hag, their easy exchange,
and the hag’s startling features, her cosmic, ugly beauty.
I look into you.
I look back at me.
We. We.
She stops walking.
The road is long—there’s no end in sight.
She has no friends.
She’s sweaty and tired.
She hears the hag’s voice again, its gravel and yawn.
Come back.
I need you.
We’re one, can’t you see?





The Hag

My daughter at two and half, behind the bars of her crib,
asks for her good-night kisses.
After a long peevish day, trapped inside because of snow,
we kiss and kiss and kiss.
She gives them open-mouthed, no tongue.
My lips pucker into the round circle of hers.
It’s a chaste make out session.
She’s eating me and eating at me.
I’m folded over her like a figure in a bad Gustav Klimt painting.
There’s no gold flake—our kiss is not framed by a painter’s light,
but the enveloping is right, one body around another, body eating body.
Earlier, after her bath, she threw a plastic toy at my head and laughed.
I seethed as I dried her off and put cream on her tiny vulva.

When she was a baby, I joked with my friends
that I loved her so much I could French her.
Nobody laughed, but I kept trying, changing the timing.
It’s not funny, I guess.
Weird probably.
But there’s something to it—Oh, I could just eat you up!
The wolf, the witch, the monster, the mother—these shifting roles,
I try them on, I eat them up.

I remember the true terror I felt as I turned the pages of Hansel and Gretel.
The woods got deeper and blacker, and I knew they were lost.
I understood, even at six, that if you weren’t careful
and you had a lazy, distracted mother, a hag might catch and eat you.
I was frustrated by the stupidity of Hansel’s breadcrumb plan.
The witch, the hag with her bony hands was so clever.
That candy house was too good to be true!
But how could they resist?
She put Hansel in a little cell, a crib to fatten him up and make him taste better.
She made Gretel cook and clean, and fed her nothing.
She touched Hansel’s finger through the bars of his cage.
She clucked and scolded.
She could almost kiss them.

The child and the hag meet in the woods…
The mother loses track of her baby near the river…
The mother leaves her children in the forest overnight to test them…

The mother and the hag are never in the same place at the same time.
Some hags put men to a test before they turn back into beautiful maidens.
They lay snares and glue gumdrops onto their cottages.
They dig their heels into muddy riverbanks and they wait.

The hag says, It’s not such a big deal.
You just want her to come home, have dinner with you, and watch a little TV.
And you’ll do anything to make that happen.



Carley Moore's poetry and essays have been published or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Aufgabe, Drunken Boat, Fence, and Swink. She teaches writing in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University and is a Book Review Editor for the website, Writing in Public. Her debut young adult novel, The Stalker Chronicles, was published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2012. You can find her blogging and see more of her work at:

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