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Catherine Carter

Born on the eastern shore of Maryland and raised there by wolves and vultures, Catherine Carter now lives with her husband in Cullowhee, near Western Carolina University, where she teaches in the English education program. Her latest full-length collection is The Swamp Monster at Home (LSU, 2012); her first, The Memory of Gills (LSU, 2006) received the 2007 Roanoke-Chowan Award from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. In 2013−2014, her poem “Woolly Adelgid” won the poetry award for Still: The Journal in Fall 2013; her poem “Day of the Dead” won the NC Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate award; and her chapbook Marks of the Witch won Jacar Press’s 2014 chapbook contest and was published in December 2014. Her work has also appeared in Best American Poetry 2009, Orion, Poetry, North Carolina Literary Review, and Ploughshares, among others.

Ten Things I Can’t Do Without

This is a nice list idea, and I wish I could just take it as written. But one of the truly terrible things about this life is that sooner or later, we’re almost sure to find that we can—unwillingly—do without way more than we ever wanted to. So: many people list their loved ones in the top ten, and while I hope I don’t have to find out whether I can do without them, that’s not how it works. Either I’ll have to find out how to do without them, or they’ll have to find out how to do without me (unless we get lucky and a whole lot of us die quickly and painlessly when a meteor hits the earth). So air, water, and food probably should top most of our lists. Freedom from being tortured and abused: generally underrated until it’s gone. Same for mobility and some kind of health care. A place to live and some clothes help protect us from exposure (and humiliation at the gym). Love and beloveds: see above. Books and stories and language and hope are right up there, but even if we treat those as one, I think that’s at least ten, without even getting into the fun stuff like privacy, cooking, freedom of speech and press, sex, gardens, art, kale, music, woolly socks, companion animals, the works of Ursula Le Guin, and good mid-range scotches. Oh, and bees—when the bees go, a lot of us will, too. Anyway, you get the picture: we can do without all kinds of things if we’re forced to, but the things I don’t want to do without won’t fit on a list of ten.

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