from "Birth Chart" 


This is a lunar fragment

                        for the scorpion child

                                    who will not sleep, the stripes of his pajama shirt

                                                            against the dinosaurs of his pajama pants, the bonnie

                                    he calls bunny who lies over the ocean, oh bring back

                                    my bunny to me, oh

lie down, scorpion child




I had a strange Yom Kippur

                        insofar as I did not fast

insofar as I reread Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy

                        while the child slept on

me last time I read Lucy I shared a tent

                        with Chet by the snake

preserve, snakes on the desert floor

                        and in glass terrariums,

this was before we met our husbands.

                        Today a bee flew into my hair and became tangled in my half-knot, my scorpion mother pulled it out with her hands and was, unsurprisingly, stung.


I don’t know what happened to the bee.


The first time I read Lucy I couldn’t get over her mother’s letters,

                        how she hoards them in her room and won’t open them and won’t

read them, even the letter marked urgent. It occurs to me that I am fundamentally a person

                        who opens letters


and apologizes, which Lucy never seems to do, which is what Yom Kippur is for, or is supposed to be for, not that I spent it apologizing.


The day broke into night and the moon hung by halves and the scorpion child clutched my shoulders as if frightened by the brightness of the stars. I know even before I look it up

that Jamaica Kincaid is a Gemini. My moon is in Gemini


but I’m still learning what that means




At the Vermeer exhibit

                                    the scorpion child called every lute

a guitar a white-haired woman

                                    pointed at him and said I want you to remember this when you’re 15!

I wanted to say

            he really doesn’t

have to that’s not how

            art works I wanted to shout                  Vermeer was a Scorpio too you can tell

by the skin which always seems to be

                        on fire at air & space there are three stones

from the moon which I want to put in the poem without explanation

            the way you could hide them in a neighbor’s garden and nobody would notice


basalt    and we stood among the butterflies anorthosite where a pink-spotted cattleheart 


refused             to give up her Taurean secrets (typical) & a morpho perched on us both


at the same time                       for a moment

                                    for some brave and stupid reason you let the volunteer convince you

to touch the Madagascar hissing cockroach hold the caterpillar hopper stick insect


the moon waxed from Pisces into Aries           breccia   which means nothing to me




On Nan’s birthday I kept trying to write a poem like here is a visitation for the scorpion queen

            but the moon was waning all day in Libra and like


            is Libra the thing about Nan which is also the thing about me

is we were        both born under the new moon which explains why slash how


            we write in the dark and can only read each other, the lines


opening up and into an unknowing which is its own way of saying nothing

            writing is a lie that tells the truth                       or something


Nan does it even surprise you at all that Walter “Walt” Whitman was a Gemini?

Sometimes I can’t get away from that guy.


we were both born in the year of the ox and everyone in your life is a Taurus especially me




The scorpion stinger

                        is a steak knife, a just-in-case

                                    they use when they can’t rip

                                                            grab tear their prey with their pincers. You said

                                    the scorpion is going to Vicarstown which is a place

                        imaginary trains go by the tree

which was a cactus



Rachel Feder is an assistant professor of English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver. Recent poetry publications include a 2014 chapbook from dancing girl press and poems in OmniVerse and Glass; a new collection is forthcoming from Astrophel Press. A hybrid work of literary criticism and creative nonfiction, Harvester of Hearts: Motherhood under the Sign of Frankenstein, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in 2018.