Three Poems by Courtney LeBlanc

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POEM ENDING WITH A NESTLING CRADLED IN MY HUSBAND’S LARGE HAND

Because of the time difference I wake
to a text from my husband, sent the night
before. Perched on the edge of his hand
is a tiny bird, a nestling—already feathered
but not yet able to maintain flight.
The dogs went nuts, I read, I think it flew
into the front door. I imagine my dogs,
100 pounds of fur and teeth, unaware
of their strength, beholden to their prey
drive. I felt like a Disney princess, he said,
it just sat in my hand, fluttering its wings.
He carried it to a tree at the edge of our
property, gentled it onto a branch, the dogs’
barking escalating to a frenzied pitch. The next
morning another text awaits me: it didn’t
make it. Instead of imagining it broken
between my dogs’ strong jaws, I think
of it in my husband’s hand, its small body
protected, its feathered frame safe.

BLESSING FOR THE GIRLS WITH EATING DISORDERS

because I know what it’s like to make lists of food
you’ll never allow yourself to eat, to let your fingers
trip through a cookbook, using Post-Its to mark
recipes you’ll never make. Bless the girls who see
a buffet as the most deliciously terrifying thing,
whose friends marvel at her getting seconds
and thirds, without knowing she’ll kneel before
the toilet and without a sound, bring everything
back up—the eating reversed until the very first
thing she swallowed brushes past her teeth and
kisses her lips as it leaves. Bless the girls who log
every morsel they eat, who know the calorie
count of every meal, who track their workouts
and calories and go to sleep with the dull ache
of hunger in their bellies. Bless the ones who break
the cycle and the ones who don’t. Bless the girls
who see themselves in this poem. Bless the girl
writing it, for the words reflecting in her eyes
and feeling like home.

WOULD YOU EVER GET YOUR SPOUSE’S NAME TATTOOED?
~a question posted on Twitter

We’d been separated six months and you’d been dating
someone for two months when you called to tell me
my name now graced your bicep. I looked at the kitchen
that was now only mine: the fridge with the broken
handle, the stove with only three working burners. We’re not
getting back together, I finally said. It’s a testament, you corrected,
to the years we spent together. I was wife #2 and you tell me
your first wife’s name was inked onto your other bicep.
But where will you put your third wife’s name? I quipped. I’ll never
marry again, you insisted. Years later I will spend hours
getting my entire left arm tattooed, a delicate sleeve
that my second husband does not like—he cannot
comprehend how they make me feel beautiful. I waited
seven years to remarry, uncertain I wanted to do it again,
uncertain I could. You remarried seven months after
our divorce was finalized. I don’t know where
her name resides.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full-length collections Her Whole Bright Life (winner of the Jack McCarthy Book Prize, Write Bloody, 2023), Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat, 2021) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2020). She is a Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellow (2022) and the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.

Image: DomCarterTattoo, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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