Andrea Nicki


when you are just a young girl
without sex education
or experience with penises
you don't really know what a penis is

the first time a penis came close to me
it was my father's in the dark at night
i thought, large worm, snake
something that disgusts and terrifies
the worm a boy threw down my shirt
to make me scream
the evil snake that caused adam and eve to lose paradise
taught in catechism class

i reflected, this penis is a worm-thing, snake-thing
that is part of a human body
asked how it was able to move in mid-air
without inching along the ground
was given an explanation a child might think is true
he said, remember the story about the snake charmer:
sometimes a little girl is so beautiful
she can make a snake come out from hiding

i worried about the large worm entering my body
had seen worms broken in two that continued to live and move
worried that after the worm withdrew
a part of it was still inside me
feeding off and ruining my insides


in the art therapist's office i take a chunk of grey clay
and shape with it all the penis times, worms
that touched and entered me as a child

i make dozens and dozens
am afraid to count them
a huge pile of small ashen corpses

the art therapist tells me to take them
to the river and watch them dissolve
i carry them in a plastic bag
and dump them in the water
squishing them between my fingers
but they don't dissolve
there are too many
they hover near the bank too visibly

i am worried some people will see them
ask me what i am doing
and when i explain that i am doing a grief ritual
they will wonder why there are so many
little grey snakes
and who it is that died


Andrea Nicki has two collections of poems published: Welcoming (Inanna Press, 2009) and Noble Orphan (Demeter Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Canadian and international journals and anthologies such as The Brock Review, Rampike, The Goose, Philosophy Now, Magnolia: A Journal of Women's Literature II, and Women and Environments International. She also reviews poetry manuscripts for Demeter press. Her poem called "Welcoming" was set to music by professional composer Carrie Magin. Nicki teaches interdisciplinary courses in applied health ethics and disability studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy.