Birth Chart

For Faye Kempe

Your doctor’s hands
slide over your neck, his thumb pressing
into your lymph nodes, asks
I see your moon is in Scorpio,
have you been feeling

more vicious lately, impatient
for touch, a river carving into
your back and sliding down into
the concaves of your void?

You shrug, say maybe. You aren’t
sure what you’re feeling but know
it isn’t your normal, whatever your
normal is these days. I want

stability like train tracks, you say.
He nods, puts on his glasses, studies
your chart for a second longer
than the car horns whimpering

outside, their voices like dead
ancestors, ancestors you’ve stopped
listening to even though it’s the only
thing worth doing.

Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.