Uterus Poems (The New Megaphone, 2014) is a chapbook you’ll happily read in one sitting. A series of blocky prose poems, Dyer casts her uterus as something different on each page. Here it’s a toolbox, there it’s a bread machine, now it’s “as dirty as a Ron Jeremy porno.” Sometimes it’s a rare gem; at others, it’s a rancid dump. In exploring all the roles and identities of her uterus, Dyer lays out how it feels to be a woman, a human. That’s how I read it, and while such a tactic may be rather obvious, I don’t care. Women feel pressure from so many outlets to be a certain way that a response as funny and straightforward as this is necessary.
One poem features Dyer’s uterus as “a mine where dirty men dig out crags–those poky things where I cultivate all my crystal pretties.” The rest of the poem gives the reader rose quartz, pyrite, agate–beautiful gemstones–but the end of the poem whispers of something less aesthetically beautiful: “Deep in my mine there is coal. It keeps me going.” You can certainly read this to mean Dyer needs to call on something darker and deeper than superficial gemstone beauty to get through the day. Men mine women for beauty, and when their beauty is gone, what’s left? What else can society wring from them?
Dyer isn’t hopeless. That’s important to say. Even if in one poem she unkindly characterizes her uterus as being smart as a box of rocks–which is to say, not at all–there are other poems where her uterus “is on fire…It’s basically the center of the universe…it’s the power and the glory.” Instead of usually sappy exhortations or pieces of artwork that encourage women to see their sex as nothing but precious, fragile, and beautiful, Dyer focuses on the diversity of women, on the multiple identities women can take on and inhabit. Today, the uterus feels lame and embarrassing, but tomorrow, the uterus will feel powerful. And maybe on Saturday, it won’t feel like much at all, actually, but thanks for asking. Dyer accomplishes all of this with humor and honesty. In one poem, her uterus has gone viral and racked up a ton of followers on social media. In another poem, her uterus abstains from attending its high school reunion, because who really likes reunions anyway, geez?
The uterus may be the organ where fetuses grow, where uterine lining turns to blood, where fertilization can happen, but Dyer uses the uterus–her uterus–as shorthand for much more. Her uterus is a repository for memories, feelings, triumphs, and disappointments. She claims ownership of her body with short, humorous sentences that demonstrate how well she knows her uterus, her life. Her uterus is uniquely hers.