Two Poems | Niina Pollari | Granta

Two Poems

Niina Pollari



People eat animals. I sometimes do. I eat sardines that are packed side by side. I forget about their swimming when I do this.

But they are pulled from the ocean and put into a tin.

Once you asked someone to describe a typical day of eating for them. Now, when you think of this person, a part of you is always thinking of what they routinely eat.

Once you were given a drink that had a whole egg in it. A yolk casually emulsified into alcohol. Then a white slipped in and shaken. And you drank it down as if it was nothing.

You have to eat, the nurse said. We have to see you eat. The staff brought me rolls, vegetable soup, a pudding cup. One of my actions of mothering, for nine months, had been to eat. Afterward, I didn’t want to eat because it was only for me.

There’s an animal rights protest in Union Square. People wear overalls made of netting over their regular clothes. The overalls hover around their bodies like auras while they circle carcasses on a tarp. The carcasses are the bodies of lambs and chickens and dogs. The people scoop them up like they are beloved.






Urine Season


Summer in New York is urine season. Everything has an odor. The hot rain comes and hoses down the sidewalk, but the smell remains, floating there like warmth on live skin. People toss bottles out of their cars, and the bottles explode over the sidewalk. Or they stay closed and roll to a stop, then cook for days next to an architecturally famous building.

Last time it was urine season, I was expecting. That’s how you say it. You don’t say what you’re expecting. I didn’t know what I expected, but now I know. I held my pee on every corner of this town, waiting to meet my daughter.

This year I’ve been watching a livestream of a falcon nest. On a ledge above the sidewalk are three falcon hatchlings. They wait and watch in their rocky nest, knowing that their parents will bring them smaller birds to eat. There were four eggs in the nest, but the fourth didn’t hatch. The three remaining hatchlings grow larger and more dangerous each day. They rip apart tanagers and starlings as they learn the ways of predation. They shit over the edge of the building. The excrement drips down the side.

Today the falcons left.

This is a poem about expectation.

At the hospital, I had a catheter. It leaked on the bed, on the sheets, against my legs. Someone came in and asked where my baby was, not seeing the decal on the door. I have never felt as helpless.

It’s urine season again. It will be again and again. We will feel this way again. Some will say this is not a poem for them. But I say it’s a poem for anyone who ever expected anything.



Photo by Karina Zhukovskaya on Unsplash 

Niina Pollari

Niina Pollari is the author of the poetry collections Path of Totality (coming from Soft Skull in 2022) and Dead Horse (Birds, LLC, 2015). She is also the translator of Tytti Heikkinen's collection The Warmth of the Taxidermied Animal (Action Books, 2013).

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