Teri Ellen Cross Davis

Teri Ellen Cross: Tenth Anniversary Issue

Tenth Anniversary Issue: A Tribute to Guest Editors
Volume 11:1, Winter 2010

Guest Co-Editor, “The Evolving City,” Fall 2007


Teri writes:
“Even now, The Evolving City stays with me. Whether walking to work on Capitol Hill or watching the neighborhoods change while driving from the city to the suburbs, I have often wondered what story I was missing as I hid inside of my iPod headphones or riding home in my car. How long had that house been there? How do the older neighborhood folks feel on Fourth Street SE as new building after new building is erected around them? What story did I just walk thru with the couple embracing at the top of the escalators at the Metro? The poets in this issue explored the nooks and crannies of various city and country landscapes that were dear to them. And in doing so, they allowed me as a poet, to indulge my curiosity for the stories that I grasp at, the ones I know exist, but have no entry to them as they dance on the edge of my periphery.”

From the Editor:
Teri Ellen Cross co-edited The Evolving City Issue in Fall 2007, and it was an honor and a pleasure to share the editing process with her. The issue included poems about gentrification and preservation, construction and demolition—all the ways that neighborhoods and cities change over time. Working with her helped me think more deeply about the range of how we can portray urban places and the built environment in poems, and in doing so, to shape the journal’s overall themes and aesthetic. Teri was also a featured writer in 2004, and included in the Split This Rock issue in 2008. In her own writing, and in the work she does at the Folger Shakespeare Library, she exhibits again and again a talent for making connections and building communities.


Here’s what I am supposed to want:
a husband, children, stability;
a jeweled pretty leash. That I run

thru his hands like eel innards—: you hate me for it.
That I whelped his rats, milked them even—
and that’’s not all I need—: you hate me for that too.

Know this: —I crave the wind before the storm
its lashing promise. At night I dance untethered
under swollen clouds, let the humid air suckle my skin.

But for now, I shout through pursed and painted lips.
I kick back with a dainty-slippered foot. I breech this birth.
This time blonde, next brunette. I come back again and again and again.

How many licks before you get to the center of a tootsie pop? The wise owl asks
If he were a reproductive endocrinologist he would know 35 is the magic number
After that it’’s advanced maternal age after that I have outlived my usefulness
Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.d, MD, CEO, CFO, tampons flushed down the toilet,
sanitary napkins too flooded to use. Here’’s what I can offer you now:
a silent tongue, a hushed hip, an empty lap and hands cradling
Broken egg after egg after egg. After 35 I am beyond my expiration date.
Use with caution.


Kathy Keler, "Riddle," 2009, acrylic and alkyd on wood, 9" x 6"

Kathy Keler, “Riddle,” 2009, acrylic and alkyd on wood, 9″ x 6″


After the Pitocin
After the Magnesium Sulfate
After the contractions
After the migraine
After 6 centimeters
After the nurse came
After my mother came
After the vomiting
After 9 centimeters
After 10
After he whispered push
After the warming lamp was clicked on
After “almost there” the fourth and fifth time
I closed my eyes and the only voice I heard
was my own, and in the darkness a notch shifted
after me, came you


Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint (Gival Press, 2016). She is a Cave Canem fellow, and member of the Black Ladies Bruch Collective. She has attended the Soul Mountain Writer's Retreat, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, the Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her poems have been published in many anthologies including Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC, and Not Without Our Laughter. She is the Poetry Coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC and resides in Silver Spring, MD with her husband, poet Hayes Davis and their two children. To read more by this author: Teri Ellen Cross: Summer 2004 Teri Ellen Cross's Introduction to The Evolving City issue, Fall 2007 Teri Ellen Cross: Split This Rock Issue