What Makes the Body Universal ||| diode.

Who does not bear the mark of the moment of birth?

The first burst of oxygen burning the lungs.
The first furling of fingers, a desperate grasp
to stop the mad rush into loudness and light.
The nurse’s gloved and careful hands.

Weren’t we all originally oceanic?

The lukewarm bath a chance to relapse.
Cotton-wrapped sleep in sheets
still blessed with the dryer’s heat.
The first steps braiding the mother tether.

Weren’t our feet meant for fertile ground?

Breathing, something the body does
in self defense.
The same for holding close and letting go.
The craving of salt and the wide horizon.


Sandy Longhorn is the 2016 recipient of the Porter Fund Literary Prize and the author of three books of poetry. The Alchemy of My Mortal Form, her latest book, won the 2014 Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press. Her other books are The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths and Blood Almanac. Her poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, diode, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hotel Amerika, The Southeast Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. Longhorn holds a BA in English from the College of St. Benedict and an MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas. She teaches in the Arkansas Writers MFA program at the University of Central Arkansas, where she directs The C. D. Wright Women Writers Conference. In addition, she blogs at Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.

What Makes the Body Universal” originally appeared in Diode Editions, Volume 1, Number 3, Spring 2008.