Poetry: One hundred little deaths by Rachel Mann Smith

Rachel Mann Smith wants to see, wants us to see, the women whose value is so often treated as a joke: “the joke is us dying / in art like we do in life.” In tight, energetic couplets, the poem rushes at the intersection of art and violence to seek out the “hundred little deaths” lost in their collision.


One hundred little deaths

after 100 Little Deaths by Janaina Tschapes and Untitled (Volcano Series #2) by Ana Mendieta

All the woman here
are face down limbs

broken in neat collapse
all the women here

refract prismatic
in pools of glossed-out paper

all their faces
buried and I wonder

about my own death
with these faceless women

playing here at dying
lying on a soft beige beach

in Montauk on deep pile
80’s carpet in ugly

sweatpants in uneven rows
of freshly cut suburban

grass these tessellate
brown bodies young

and dressed or undressed
pressed flesh into

landscape turning slowly back
to soil and seaswell

in each my eye
imagines the sinister

just beyond the frame
how else does a young woman

die but by every jealous lover’s

A man stands too close
behind me and says
I don’t think this
is supposed to turn me on

And then he laughs
which is to say

he knows we’re good
for a fuck or a joke

the joke is us dying
in art like we do in life

like we don’t see Ana
in the next room

her single silhueta,
white coffin ghost

in a handmade volcano
vaginal and erupting

frame by frame Ana
whose husband pushed her

from their window
34 flights up

whose husband
is still is free and famous

in his old age
I can’t help it I wonder

did she feel the terminal
velocity in her face

singing her sickly
ground ward

here the final frame
is another brown body

limbs collapsed face buried
unseen, Oh Ana — I see



Rachel Mann Smith

Rachel Mann Smith is a physician and poet living in Atlanta, Georgia. She received a BA in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work is forthcoming from Little Stone Journal.

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