The Parched Queen by Corinna Schulenburg

Wound vac purrs and little jewels
of blood float from my body wondering
what they did wrong.

I try to explain, but my throat
croaks from intubation, my brain
seems to have misplaced the keys.

It’s easy to fall in and out of sleep
that isn’t sleep. It’s easy to say
this wholeness is the answer.

This wholeness stings like bees
with fists full of sweetness. This wholeness
is thirsty as the Parched Queen.

Do you know the Queen?
I ask my blood and piss as the tubes
ferry them to wastelands.

She ruled the dry places, her scepter
a snake’s bleached rattle on the tip
of an elephant’s femur.

She banished all water from her realm.
She thought this would cure her thirst.
Even the vultures wheeled away.

When her thirst became impossible,
she cut herself open as a door
with the spikes of a cholla

and do you know what happened then?
Her thirst poured out of her,
staining the desert blue and green.

My blood and piss search for a moral.
It’s easy to fall in and out of
morals. It’s easy to say

pain is the door we open into
wholeness. It’s harder to tell the body
this pain is also tomorrow, is also

the day after, the weeks to come,
this pain is the blue and green,
is the whole coming round.


Corinna Schulenburg (she/her) is a queer trans artist/activist committed to ensemble practice and social justice. She’s a mother, playwright, poet, and a Creative Partner of the Flux Theatre Ensemble. Her poetry has appeared in Arachne Press, Capsule Stories, Lost Pilots, LUPERCALIA Press, miniskirt magazine, Moist, Moss Puppy, Oroboro, Poet Lore, SHIFT, The Shore, The Westchester Review, and more.

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