Nora Gause

I. Teratoma


Toothy hairball.                                                                                              


I have no lab to build you in,

no spark to plant soul-fire in your lungs,

no burning flame for your heat.

I am no alchemist.

I do not call you home.                                                 



Golem child.


I will not make clay for you, grow

leggy roots in the swamp of my belly for you,

sing songs of coalescence

for you.



I will not

write your name upon my flesh,

wear your face on mine,



I will not burden you with this.



Muddy soup of blood and bone


naked mole rat, I feel

you scratch


inside our skin

                                                                                                                                this trusted symmetry


aching iron



Stay blinded.




 II.  Lithopedion

With selections from W. Campbell’s Memoir on Extra-Uterine Gestation, Edinburgh, 1840




extra-uterine gestation:

a medical curiosity or

one of the most dreadful calamities

to which a womb can be subjected


gathering stone:

an unabsorbed abdominal pregnancy

of at least three months duration

in conditions ripe for calcification

the local circulation must be sluggish,

the fetus must remain sterile,

and the pregnancy undetected


one patient passed

what she thought was a chicken bone

by rectum;

it was a femur


Pebble baby,

calcium salt gargoyle:


stay a little while with me?





 III. Charon



Solemn and silent, the technician

chooses litmus strips and

droppers chemical full;

a brief pause,

a breath before tasting fate.


                                                                                                I am clouded by particulate.

                                                                                                                This is my fifth:

                                                                                                                                I already know.


Colors change, edges curl, then drop with decree.

There is a bereavement fee to be paid,

coins larger than eye buds,

thicker than clots.



birth mucus crowds my throat,

                                                                                                                she is the one who will not crown




I will drink the blue waters

of forgetfulness; I will dip

my fingers on

forbidden shores.




                                                                                                                birthing blankets warp bitter on

                                                                                                                my tongue


                                                                                                                I float.



I would name you Lethe.






A caterer and personal chef in Seattle, Nora Gause (non-binary she/they) loves the moment between click and woosh when a gas range lights. She thinks a lot about limerence, family histories, identities, and justice, and suspects that poems and recipes are spells in disguise. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Russian Language from Goucher College.