​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L


Kate Bucca is an MFA candidate in poetry and fiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts - where she serves as the Vermont Book Award Fellow and a reader for Hunger Mountain - and the author of the novel Companion Plants (Fomite, 2014). Her work has appeared in Limestone, The Nervous Breakdown, The Manifest-Station, DigBoston, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. Find more of her work at creaturesinminiature.com.


When I punched my own stomach to stop you from growing
                                                                                               hungry, your father
                       never knew. Each week he sent me to the food bank where
             a pastor placed his palm on my forehead. No permission asked.


                   Church teaches a new form of begging: prayer and thanks in
                                  exchange for the chance to fill a plastic bag with enough
                                       cast-offs to last the week. Claim a package
                          of chicken breasts; slimy and pale orange pink lets you know it's
                     a gamble. Pray you can cook away any danger, quiet

                                                 a husband with a well-timed meal. Poverty aches in
                     waves, a sore that does not heal but gapes open, irritated by the slightest
                                                                                                              movement toward healing.


When I punched my own stomach you couldn’t fight back, so I fought
           myself for you.
                       I made mosaics of pills on the bedside table,

                                                            lined up blades like silver
picket fences. Enticements to end my own life –
                                     still, I lacked courage.             Shallow cuts,

                                                instead;             the tracks of remembering.


                   On a Sunday morning, a pastor rails against
                                               abortion, denounces as murderer any woman who would
                         give up a gift from God. The cost of abuse includes

                   a lien against the soul of a woman who can
                                                                                                  neither leave nor keep.


When I punched my own stomach repeatedly over several
                        days until the fist struck like a sentence falling, every
                                                                                    muscle that cables up and
down my front contracted to
            protect me, not you. Sometimes I imagine that

you're still hidden inside me, sequenced DNA with different
                                   strands, implanted in my leg or shoulder or chest – a part of
me I will not know to beat when I do not bleed – and are growing, quietly, the extra
                       weight I feel with each step but cannot

touch, waiting for the day when our tissue dissolves
                                                                                                together in the ground.

B Y   K A T E   B U C C A