Klein Voorhees

They : I

I violet their
tongue / heart
a swollen bruise, grew
up in my cold

I in my they
ask myself, will I let
drip each their
until I am so many wings,
I fluttering my theys down

trans · it

I was taught the miracle of how                     Christ  trans ·
                                                                                                forms his body, over and over
                                                                                                            in another’s mouth,

so for twenty-one years I held my breast on my tongue, praying      for trans ·
                        substantiation, revelation of the truth of my being     beyond the flesh

                                    I trans · mogrify into a soft-bellied
                         bird, warbling miles               of trans · lucent song.

All pilgrimage is trans ·
                         position of the throat and hands
                                                 palming prayers into  the crooks of an unfamiliar
                                                                                                            coastline, trans ·
                                                                                                                        thrumming in
                                                                                                   my chest like dancing,
                                                                                                             the word

                                                                                    itself is a trans · gression
                                                                       syllables moving the tongue
                                                                                    as flickering
                                                                                    ferrying my song to
                                                                                                the shore of
                                                                                                              a stranger’s mouth.


It began in the mouth

there were only so many
sounds to make           and so we shared
tongues amongst each other.

It began as Mohn,     a slip of the tongue made
the flower unfurl         into Mond
then we saw how the moon fit perfectly
between the swell of parted lips
and it became

poppy moon planted in the mouth      like incantation, cradling
ancient syllable we coax
symbols to unravel      their roots so we may
begin etymologizing     ourselves new.

I began as a moon
that never bloomed, never
saw the ways my crescents could be
mouths, meadows.

KLEIN VOORHEES is a poet, artist, and translator from North Carolina. They studied creative writing at California College of the Arts where they received their MFA. They were selected as a fellow for the 2023 Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Arkansas International, the Los Angeles Review, The Offing, and St. Mary’s anthology: “Odes to Our Undoing: Writers Reflecting on Crisis.”

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