Our fifteenth and final title of 2021, Iris McCloughan’s Bones to Peaches is Number 23 in the Robin Becker Chapbook Series.
Publication: December 31, 2021 [100 copies]
Iris McCloughan is a trans artist, performer, and writer in New York City. Iris was the winner of the 2018 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review and was a finalist in nonfiction for Best of the Net 2020. They are the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Triptych (greying ghost, 2022). Their writing has appeared in juked, jubilat, American Poetry Review, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, ANMLY, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere.
Iris’s performances have been presented in New York City (The Poetry Project, AUNTS, JACK, Ars Nova, Movement Research at Judson Church), Philadelphia (Institute of Contemporary Art, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Contemporary, FringeArts, Vox Populi), Chicago (Links Hall), Detroit (Public Pool), and elsewhere. They have collaborated with many other artists and writers, including Eiko Otake, Joan Jonas, Mike Lala, Toby Altman, and Julie Mayo.
I come upon him
studying with a twilit
diligence. I see
he has mostly accepted
the long evening
of work ahead. The blue-
prints are spread before
him and he’s begun to label.
Orchard, field, and smaller things
too: single wave, smear
of ash on palm.
The candle is smoking,
slowly filling up the reading
room with a barely-noted buzzing
darkness, like the sound
of cicadas still underground
one town over, getting
dressed in their armor,
preparing to do battle
with their brief wonder-soaked
lives. There’s an expectation–
he knows it, and so do I.
An expectation, though
we can’t tell where
it’s coming from, can only tell
something is coming, and soon,
so I am learning how folded
I’ve been, tracing the path
of each familiar crease.
I am practicing how to get smooth.
He is preparing for the long exam,
studying a recondite origami.
There was a time when the symmetry seemed too
by the book, too rote. But
to all those that question the tropism
guiding the growth of love’s spines
through our lives, note his hands,
how they slow and float, cloudlike
over the temple I’ve always been told my body is.
The calm battering he gives teaches me
that instead of mud my body is silk
scarves, a small tornado
of them, all patterned with the real
and imagined flowers of the field.
And when my veil has been adequately weakened
by all his precise and unreadable folds,
after it has been rent
wit little or no ceremony,
the gentle and translucent dervish
that is me inside my body
will wind both of the pieces up
and flash them alternately:
now joy, now grief, now
both overlaid for all to see.