Three poems by Cathlin Noonan


Self-Portrait From a Balm


I was born from a long, hot labor

a boiling, a hard shake, whipped


to form after the heat and pain

my caul, not shaped in splintering


from my mother, but from a cooling,

scraped away. I reaped


from childless mothers, my face,

my hips, those worker bees


abstinent and dancing along

another’s fertile path, softness


in the sting. I soothed my own

postpartum with a marbling


of fat, peppermint and pine.

Until human hands force


my emergence twisting me

to come forth, I’ll burrow


into the cardboard channel

the one cell, the first pock


of a larger comb.

Know this


unlike this honey, unlike

each tethered larvae


pulsing for a future organ,