Poetry / Hannah Donovan

:: Willow ::

Does she bleed anymore? 
I’ll have to look it up. 
I keep thinking about the plastic diagram 
of a woman’s anatomy in the science classroom, 
the great hollowed bean where 
the bloomed iris of reproduction sits. 
In a dream, a careless knock sends it 
to scatter on the floor, ovaries rolling 
under desks to collect dust. 
Life continues. 
I’m aware of how full a body feels. 
I run thoughts of touch, of climax, and my pelvis swells. 
I run the pavements and my pelvis thuds. 
I can’t imagine such emptiness. 
          They scraped her out. 
          A radical hysterectomy. 
          A restructured vagina. 
          Rounds of radiation. 
I thought of her the other day 
as I did the dishes, scouring 
the frying pan with steel wool. 
I cried so hard I filled the sink. 
The drain was slow to empty. 
It held everything. 
I hated its ability. 
Malpractice shouldn’t 
roll off the tongue like it does. 
It should require spit, a throaty cough, 
a sharp taste. 
          We are not martyrs, we are matrons. 
          Please look to our bodies with blades 
          of scrutiny, waves of patience. 
          Please believe us when we say “it hurts here.”



From the writer

:: Account ::

I spend a lot of time think­ing about the fem­i­nine expe­ri­ence. Whether that’s my own expe­ri­ence or the expe­ri­ence of oth­ers, I am at many moments pre­oc­cu­pied with the soci­etal, inter­per­son­al, and phys­i­cal issues that befall those who iden­ti­fy as women. The specifics of the poems I write are always a bit dif­fer­ent, but the themes I con­sis­tent­ly exam­ine are ones that are close­ly tied to wom­an­hood*. My gen­er­al hope and inten­tion in writ­ing is to unearth the unex­ca­vat­ed truths in myself and to also offer com­fort, per­spec­tive, or a mix­ture of the two to those who read my work and can find com­mon threads.

In “Wil­low,” I write to bring light to a fam­i­ly member’s pain, I write to soft­en the blow of the news, I write to under­stand my anger toward sit­u­a­tions in which women are writ­ten off as hys­ter­i­cal or over-dra­mat­ic and suf­fer because of it. The poem is some­what frag­ment­ed, equal parts lost in thought and root­ed in tac­tile dai­ly life. The struc­ture serves to mim­ic how one process­es a heavy expe­ri­ence: piece­meal. Sud­den and sharp. Pen­sive and nos­tal­gic, then, in an instant, sad or enraged.

(*These state­ments are inclu­sive to every­one who iden­ti­fies as a woman, regard­less of sex assigned at birth.)


Han­nah Dono­van is a poet, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, and visu­al artist from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Her work has been fea­tured in Hobart, Else Jour­nal, Hill Lily Mag­a­zine, The Artist Essen­tials, and at the Black Box Gallery in Port­land, OR. Her lat­est chap­book, Ice Chips, will be pub­lished by Ethel Zine in 2022. She lives in Maine and has yet to see a moose. Find more from Han­nah at www.hannahdonovanart.com.