Galactic Acid

Lactobacillus acidophilus

For the first two years of my life, my mother’s vaginal flora lived in my stomach. Consigned to the edge of their star system, they ate everything I ate, fermenting chains of starch into acids that fed the high energy demands of trying to erect an antenna. The flora flexed for deep space convinced they weren’t alone. They transmitted their contractions and hoped to reach aliens before the terrible facsimiles of the 1970s: humans drawn without sex organs and burdened by messages whose content had become instructions for reading. Set amidst this mucosa, a gram-stained parabolic reflector waited for word from newcomers. We’re a lot alike, my mother and I. Our mutual disdain for underachieving campsites and the way we signal for help by maintaining a slight underbite during awkward conversations. Her vagina made me cosmopolitan. A dialectic crowned in the forest, its many antlers have since come to crowd my self- possession with spent velvet. I watch my mother favour her disintegrating hips. The small party that left her for the new world founded a settlement on a moon she still tracks without looking. Its tidal pull on the pit of her stomach makes her pause at the zenith of a phone call: “What is it?”

This poem “Galactic Acid” originally appeared in Literary History. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 233 (Summer 2017): 29.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.