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,