Ann Pedone ~ From: The Monogamist

The First Aria

If the oppo­site of dark is light, then what is the
oppo­site of the body? Bleeding down your leg
because you can’t find a tam­pon anywhere?
That one split sec­ond before the music starts?
The fact that once you’ve watched some­one pee,
you can nev­er unsee it? I sucked my thumb as
a child, and recent­ly I’ve been think­ing that if
I can find the time, I might just start up again.
“Genitals” only came to refer to the sex organs
dur­ing the Medieval Ages. Then some­thing takes
the shape of an old man’s scro­tum. Then something
takes the shape of an accent you thought you had
lost as a child: it’s still there and now it is the
hum­ming, or at least the hum­ming that you’ve been
hear­ing all around you for days. Tomorrow morning
I’ll wait until my throat has turned a bit more cup-
like then I will take spec­i­men. Text it to you and your
cousins from the car. The sur­pris­ing gen­tle­ness I felt
the oth­er day when I held your balls while you peed.
The sur­pris­ing gen­tle­ness of the two men everyone
saw dili­gent­ly tak­ing turns suck­ing each oth­er off in
the bank lob­by. Nobody knows who they were or
how they got there. Nobody knows if one of them
end­ed up pen­e­trat­ing the oth­er. No one knows how
this turned out to be the ori­gin of writing



Some words are pri­or to syrup, or what
the Greeks once con­sid­ered “syrup-pri­or”.
Two steps clos­er to the wall and all the
men she’s ever fucked escape
down into the crawl space she just now
dis­cov­ered behind the toi­let. It’s a way of
wor­ship­ing gen­der with­out involving
space or time or vol­ume. It’s a way
of declin­ing the last nouns you
have in your pocket,
the ones you didn’t declare when they

Pulled you aside at the air­port. When the
TSA offi­cer asked you again if you
were one of those women who runs around
town say­ing the body is a
sol­id, and then pen­e­trates you with her two
bare thumbs. And she returns to the
room, picks up the phone to call him,
then remem­bers that he’s in a time zone
where that kind of erot­ic fugue­ing is
tech­ni­cal­ly ille­gal. So instead she texts him her
exact case and num­ber hop­ing that
he’ll be able to put the last pieces of the puzzle
togeth­er on his own.

This is why when she final­ly opens the
cam­era on her phone to
text him the pic­ture of her crotch she had
tak­en that morning
she finds that it’s now a goat hook or a mottled
length of rope or a
clean his­tor­i­cal “break”. All her fac­to­ries are
capa­ble of under­stand­ing the mistake
and yet she sends the pic­ture any­way, sits back,
and waits for his
response. Truancy. That, accord­ing to her mother,
has always been her one real skill.

She’s nev­er got­ten used to the sound of the
word car­na­tion, or
the per­fect mounds of sug­ar her mother
has been always been able to make of herself.
If it weren’t too late already, she would grab
all of her smok­ing guns and renounce her body’s
last claims to pleasure-but
ety­mol­o­gy has nev­er worked like that. Like an
old stretch of car­pet no one is will­ing to claim, she
knows that as day fol­lows night, the next time she fucks
him will be as a Russian serf or the third person
sin­gu­lar of “to forget”.

You’re so much thin­ner than they had warned me you
would be, he texts back, and
she loves him, despite the fact that, she knows the
only real cer­tain­ty is the kind grown in a lab.
And her need to wrap her legs around something
even vague­ly “mas­cu­line” dis­guis­es itself for the
night as the last two hun­dred years
of poet­ry. Her cunt enjambs the last secret he
had told her. Into a con­fused knot. Out of
a kind of philol­o­gy but more ten­der than the
low lan­guage she grew up speaking


The Second Aria

Because the ety­mol­o­gy of “cock” has nev­er actu­al­ly had
any­thing to do with the body. Because the phys­i­cal act of
the aorist is always lurk­ing some­where in the background
Because a hotel room is the worst pos­si­ble place for a
woman to try and con­struct any sort of empo­ri­um of self.
Because no mat­ter how I do the math, you still don’t get it:
what we’re talk­ing about here isn’t love, but how my uterus
is pos­si­bly going to be able to con­tin­ue to car­ry all of this
filthy light for you. Because hum­ming, hum­ming all the way
down the hall­way, hum­ming alone in the bath­room. For in the
begin­ning there was sound. For in the begin­ning “coitus”
was just the Vulgar Latin for “saint”. For in the beginning
I told you the only real bina­ry I was ever going to be able to
afford to offer you is my abil­i­ty to “fold” and “unfold”


Ann Pedone is a poet, non-fic­tion writer, and lit­er­ary trans­la­tor. She is the author of The Medea Notebooks (spring, 2023 Etruscan Press), and The Italian Professor’s Wife (2022, Press 53), as well as numer­ous chap­books. Her work has appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, Dialogist, Barrow Street, 2River, Tupelo Quarterly, The Texas Review, and the Chicago Quarterly Review. Ann has been nom­i­nat­ed for Best of the Net, and has appeared as Best American Poetry’s “Pick of the Week”. She grad­u­at­ed from Bard College and has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Berkeley.