Venus in Art Therapy
by Anita Olivia Koester
I had my own family once. Now, I practice forgetting them. A ritual of forgetting: perfuming my wrists, lip-sticking my lips. At first I grabbed at men’s hands as if I was in a state of endless falling. They were as slippery with sweat as my own body which kept opening and closing like a cactus flower in a long exposure photograph. I was not ready to witness my stigma unfolding. These days, I find myself looking into other people’s windows. I can’t imagine having a house again, though if I did, there would be a child in it. Good, the teacher says, now draw the child.
But when I draw the child she has three heads, a tail, a mirror instead of a heart.
The self is a house that can only be abandoned once. Though the stairwell un-spiraled, and the claw-foot tub walked off with the body of a drowned girl, and the windows shattered with the aftershocks of loss. All that’s left of the shutters and doors are golden hinges gleaming in sunlight. The sink too gleams with the glass, and gears, and hands of every watch and clock dismantled. Their batteries buried too close to the water source. This happens all in the background, in the foreground one Venus devours the head of the other Venus. It’s a kind of ritual, a type of coupling.
Anita Olivia Koester is a Chicago poet and author of four chapbooks including Apples or Pomegranates (Porkbelly Press), Marco Polo (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), and Arrow Songs which won Paper Nautilus’ Vella Contest. Her poems have been nominated for Best New Poets and Pushcart Prizes, and won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, So to Speak’s Annual Poetry Contest, Midwestern Gothic’s Lake Prize in Poetry, amongst others. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in CALYX Journal, Tahoma Literary Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Vinyl, Phoebe Journal and elsewhere. She is currently an associate poetry editor at Green Mountains Review, and founder of Fork & Page. Her work has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and PLAYA. Her website is- www.anitaoliviakoester.com and she tweets @anitaokoester