Caitlin Scarano


Caitlin Scarano is a poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program. She was a finalist for the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology and the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Eduardo Corral. She has two poetry chapbooks: The White Dog Year (dancing girl press, 2015) and The Salt and Shadow Coiled (Zoo Cake Press, 2015).


Moon Among Mammals

The moon is not always female,
human. Moon can be a man
missing teeth or an animal

with an oar-shaped tongue,
who watched me sleepwalk
through the snakes of my half-life.

When I woke to a gunshot
it was only a bird's
skull on the antique window

glass in my mother's belly. A collie
digging up pecans in the backyard
that was as wide as a country

but shrunk to a wink
when my sisters and I aged
to white eyeshadow and Camels

behind the rotting playhouse.
When I visited my father last
winter, he was dying

of liver cancer. I once saw that dog,
the collie, kill a hen with her eyes
open. I once saw my father

climb a tree so tall he disappeared
into the moon's laughing
milk-white mouth.

‘Moon Among Mammals’ opens with a line that is in conversation with a famous Marge Piercy poem ( In my writing, I am almost always contemplating (running up against?) the constructs of sex and gender and the impact those constructs have on my family, my upbringing, my sexuality, and my day-to-day life and decision-making. I'm also very fascinated by animal imagery and metaphor. Regarding the events behind the poem, on Christmas Eve Day 2014, I visited my father in Tennessee. I had not seen him in nearly a decade. He died ten days later. In the months that followed, almost every poem I wrote turned toward this event, even when I tried to write about something else. This is one poem from that time.