Two Poems by Elizabeth Tannen

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Found in Willow Springs 90

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Liz Phair, fifteen weeks


On the same morning I learn
the fetus is developing folds that

will become ears I also hear
that Liz Phair has a new album

which makes me weepy because
special sentimentalities go along

with being pregnant and with being
a teenager and hearing her name now

converges these chapters, makes
me reminisce about being fifteen

and in the back of Webster Hall,
swaying because I was so uncomfortable

in my body and so taken
with excitement to be at my very

first concert beside a very
pretty friend whose taste in music

I let mold mine. Liz’s voice
has stayed the same but her heartache

hasn’t aged well. She sounds
less fierce, more codependent.

We were both supposed to stay
youthful forever. We were both

supposed to remain as cool
as we felt in the 90s. I listen

to the new album again to try
and like it better but it just

makes me want to hear
Exile in Guyville, and I belt out

the lyrics like the fetus
can hear, like it might forgive

me and Liz for the imperfect
ways we’ve aged.


Riddle, six weeks


Are you sure you want to switch
to pregnancy-tracking mode?

my period-tracking app asks and a purple
circle with a peanut-shaped image of an embryo

at the center stares up at me as I stand
in the white-walled laundry room

of my apartment building basement
where I have come to hide

from my partner who does not want
a pregnancy or a baby or a child

and to retrieve a load of wet washing
and in the process I’ve hit what now

appears to be a very significant button
whose pressing will activate an endless

stream of content warning women what

to eat and what not to eat and what skin

products to avoid and which to use and
on any given day, whether your embryo

is the size of a sesame seed or a lentil
and which exercises you should try

and which never and whatever you do,
don’t stress out, it’s bad for the baby,

but I don’t know that yet and in the moment
I’m not prepared because it’s Friday

and I’m between Zoom meetings and
it’s been only minutes since I removed

the pink wrapper on the First Response test
and peed into a glass jar that used to hold

a pine-scented candle but today
holds my yellow urine which apparently

contains the hormone that the test
says means positive which means

that today my body is pregnant and yet
my body is also over thirty-five and has

never, to my knowledge, carried a pregnancy
and there are too many emotions to process

all of which will conflict directly with those
of my baby-hating partner and so it seems

strange that the app whose job I thought
it was to simply track my menstrual cycle

should be so bold as to ask whether
I’m sure about anything

2 thoughts on “Two Poems by Elizabeth Tannen”

  1. Loved this. I googled you to see if you did have a baby, and see that you also specialize in memoir and personal essay. The poem reeled me in wanting to know more. And now I know about your accomplishments and can read more of your work. Thanks.


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