Four Uterine Flowers

Georgianna Van Gunten


I have three sisters who are in a bedroom and just waking up

each of them

have entered their own houses, gated yards, small cells, thick swamps.


I am a storm cell moving over a city

a thunderstorm in the beginning of summer

And I am giant swelling

huge bursts of electricity traveling through my belly.


I am not low enough yet

to be perceived as a threat

to the fragile pink blossoms on trees

                                   the budding plants that have just pushed their heads past the first layer

of dark, wet soil.


I don’t need to decide where I am going

I need to let these swirls of grey inside me build


Burst open like a sac of mantis eggs scattering

to the pressurized atmosphere.


My first sister is named Day and Night

Dia Y Noche by parents who spoke no Spanish, but dreamed

the heat of green and red chilies

in New Mexico thunderstorms

both death and life

The urging of the dusty earth opening its too wide mouth to swallow the rain

and my first sister went inside a hot air balloon and floated away

the illusions she left behind

withered, turned to bone and then to dust

and the wind speckled all my lonely meadows with those remnants.


My second sister is named Zoë

and we were all given bodies that do not work

and we were all delivered invisible pain that did not make sense

and this sister sat and wove herself a pretty cell

made of yarn from some other country where people understand colors

and how to marry disparate threads

how to join



those two ships colliding in the dark until they became one


with which to carry the dead.


And from inside her woven cell

she can still see the world

but colored by neon greens and oranges

magenta softness that pokes at her eyes with its loose hairs.


My third sister is named Elizabeth

but she wants to be called Bella now

and when the name won’t form in my mouth

there is a scary eel that swims from around her head and says

See! You don’t know her

You don’t even know her name!

And I try to snap the eel out of the dark waters around my sister

but it is slippery

and can’t be caught.


This third sister’s home once was a shelter for battered women in Illinois,

my home was once a mental hospital in Albuquerque,

Day and Night’s home was once a darkened bedroom in Texas

and if you wanted to reach her you had to walk down a hallway, the floor covered in unwashed blankets

and she would speak to you from a waterbed

where every movement

produced the sound of sloshing.

Zoe’s home was once a miniature house in Canjilon

filled with tiny furniture and little dolls

each one hosted by her imagination, delicately detailed lives that she led

you could not even move a doll’s little head

without her later noticing.



Rabbits, like the praying mantis, can see 360 degrees

because rabbits have bulging eyes placed towards the top of their heads

and a mantid has a head that swivels all the way around.

The praying mantis is a predator

and the rabbit is an animal of prey

one half of each of my sisters is a rabbit

dear and fierce in their search

for danger in every meadow and garden,

in the bramble of every blackberry bush

and the other half of my sisters is a praying mantis

sacred as the air that scents their praying hands

patient, criminally lethal

able to turn their heads no matter the direction their bodies face

to scan the space

and whisper

armed and naked inside your quivering heart.



I am neither rabbit nor mantid

I am a halfway place

I am a hallway between two locked doors;



And I am the doors too

                                and the unknown whatever inside them

the hollowed out space of nothingness that is never seen or felt but acknowledged as existing

I am the violent short-lived weather experience

that shouts up over the city

I am the undulating meadow where two brothers are witnessing

time eating itself


I am all swift updraft

and if you look long enough

you can see me spinning

like a flipped coin in the atmosphere

that has yet to fall back down




Georgianna Van Gunten is a writer based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is currently teaching creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared in Bluntly Mag, MeowMeowPowPow, Gesture Literary Press, Le Petit Press, Bombay Gin, et al. She was selected as January 2020’s Poet of the Month by the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. She has attended informal workshops with CA Conrad, has participated in the Jack Kerouac School’s Summer Writing Program where she has worked with writers such as Andrea Rexilius, J’Lyn Chapman and Anne Waldman, she has also attended five residencies at Vermont College of Fine Arts where she has worked with the poet Matthew Dickman extensively.