Fancy titles to common parts

Lauren Turner’s “Engaging the core,” published in Arc 68 (Summer 2012) won the 2012 Diana Brebner Prize.

Engaging the core

~ Lauren Turner

Respond to the only name you have known,
do not question whether it suits you, or lie
curled under the duvet at 2 o’clock, wondering if
its vibrancy and litheness magnifies
your slothful disposition, the unfinished quality
of your movements, those meandering limbs.

Sickle feet are unsuitable for dancing,
so stand on your toe knuckles to stretch
the curved instep, the plantar fascia. Give fancy titles
to common parts, even lemurs have arches to grip
stone fruit plundered from Malagasy orchards,
golden sap dripping down triangular snouts.

What does this body symbolize? An artist carved
a lotus into your skin, above tender kidneys.
Did the blue ink reach the organs, pooling into
the bloodstream? Wonder now if your interiority
reads differently, hieroglyphics of porous marrow
pocketed with secrets, your fervent indiscretions.

Liver enzymes pickled slightly, little asthmatic
lungs mid-spasm where another set of hands
gripped your taut abdomen, the head of a drum
organizes static, veins pulsating haemoglobins
in perfect three-four time. This is your waltz,
sway to it.



Carried through Malagasy orchards and held in porous marrow, “Engaging the core” is an incantation of the music of the body. Imbued with want and questioning, this piece ascends to the bittersweet pitch of vulnerability and fearlessness. An enviable accomplishment of a difficult task. Sensual with its language and nimble in its portraiture, this poem achieves an irrepressible resonance that stays.

– S. Ridley, judge, 2012 Diana Brebner Prize



Lauren Turner’s poetry has previously appeared in Geist, Ultraviolet, The Undergraduate Review, and HeadsUp, as well as in the anthology Lake Effect 5, edited by Carolyn Smart.


Celebrate the 12th year of the Diana Brebner prize with Arc!

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