Two Poems by Frances Klein

Guide to Interpreting Dreams

The owl represents your mother.

The cypress in which the owl perches
also represents your mother.

The shadow-veiled snake laying
between the tree’s roots?
That, too, is your mother.

The owl snatching the snake
and bringing it to the branch
to devour is your mother turning
her back on own impending grief.

You are the half-moon, tepid light
settling on the tree’s branches.

You are the field mouse
shivering behind a fence-post,
guilt warring with gratitude
at having been passed over.


Estradiol the Mimic
Estradiol, like many fertility drugs, induces side effects that mimic the symptoms people often feel in early pregnancy.

Like the Milk Snake, robed
in lapping bands of sandstone, salt,
and sable to imitate its cousin Coral,
hiding in plain sight from the hawks
and skunks that would make of it a meal.

Like the Walking Stick, segmented
length blending with the detritus of the forest
floor to offer shelter from the curious birds
and rodents who might spy its movements
and know it to be more than wind.

Like the Robber Fly, camouflaged assassin,
robed in marigold and shade, coiled behind
the flower petals to catch anything
that moves, be it beetle, lacewing, butterfly
no mercy even for its own cousins.

Like the Death’s Head Hawkmoth,
which perfumes itself with the scent
of the bees it robs, waved on
by the hive-guards to the inner sanctum
where it feasts without reproach.

All of this mimicry a drive for survival,
for safety, for sustenance, for one
more moment on this earth. From what,
then, do the chemicals flooding my
body think they are saving me?


Frances Klein (she/her) is a poet and teacher writing at the intersection of disability and gender. She is the 2022 winner of the Robert Golden Poetry Prize, and the author of the chapbooks New and Permanent (Blanket Sea 2022) and The Best Secret (Bottlecap Press 2022). Klein currently serves as assistant editor of Southern Humanities Review. Readers can find more of her work at