Full Moon in Cancer


My feet in stirrups—not unlike
the leather ones I drove my soles into
each hot morning I spent riding at the base
of the Crazy Mountains. A small, looped

wire—not unlike the braided lasso

pulled taught around a yearling’s thickened
neck on branding day, the M—N seared
into the flank someone might soon cut into

in another state. Inserted by way of the place
where things come out. A tiny, hooped
laser put to cervix cells. Pre-
cancer—as if I might fall back

into my own mother’s womb,
in the time before I slipped
into waning moonlight on the first
of July. Most summers these days are cracked

open, and steaming in a way that leaves me slicked
in a lining of my own salted dreams. Dis-
charge runs out of me—like steadying
a stampede, or reverting a verdict. I judge

my own toes and how they look under the light
of a doctor’s office, so aware of my nails
and other casings, when I should be concerned
that the inside parts of me are burned off

cell by cell. The base of my own belly may be
unable to bear the weight of a head
grown full term. There’s something
about the stars, my constellation, like a Y

my body in the shape of a Y, arms folded across
my chest, head back, legs spread wide. Soon,
clots of blood will fall out of my open space: a wish-
bone, a letter. Filled, now, by a doctor’s hand. Why

is it that his brand is scarred in the deepest place
I’ll never see? The air between my legs
more like water than saddle. I want
a horse-belly that I squeeze to say Go. Fly.

Hannah Smith