To Taenia at 8 and 1/2 Months

small wasp moroniella
lays eggs in
housefly’s pupa

without further development
in a state of suspended animation
fly pupa alive

hatchling wasp larvae
glut on its cold storage meat
fly pupa shriveled skin

adult wasp larvae gnaw
free their borrowed nursery
nature in the raw
charming fecundity

Soft unusual names for you if a girl
Sweet liquids, they roll off anyone’s tongue

Ascaris    Saprolegnia    Empusa    Ergot
Trichinella  Spiralis       Taenia

Cause or carrier
opportunistic parasite
your shelter your food your safe harbor
breathe my oxygen
absorb my strength

my life blood

Questions and Answers

What inspired “To Taenia at 8 and 1/2 Months”?

I like to combine technical vocabulary and subject matter, increasingly medical, with the lyric poem. “Taenia” does this. While the title alludes to the gestation period for humans and the poem plays with the idea of mother love, it also refers to carriers of disease and other such icky things. “Taenia,” while a pretty, girly name, also means … tapeworm. I am working on a manuscript, Cat Scratch Fever, about sickness, growing from a mysterious illness I suffered a few years ago. The personal is the political no more so than in one’s own body. In serious play, I’m seeing how humour is able to mitigate disquieting subject matter.

This poem “To Taenia at 8 and 1/2 Months” originally appeared in Nature / Culture. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 170-171 (Autumn/Winter 2001): 191.

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