Last year the city ran down to the frozen river. She threw her face against the rocks, the tatters of her brain crystalized as they oozed from her broken eyes. When we found her we combed the tangles from her hair and cracked open her skull. Rose quartz stained with a grey sky kept us fed for weeks.
Now what’s left of her slinks through the night like a wolf and you can only see her out of the corner of your eye.
She has not yet forgiven us for the highway stretching forever away, crusted with brunt sugar kudzu and the bones of lovers who will never return.
This year I eat a salt cake in her memory and burn my tongue in the tiny campfire my mother taught me how to make when she and the city were so very young. I pluck out my eyes with the last of the winter roses and let their thorns curl down my cheeks.
Next year, when my voice returns, I will cut it out again.
This poem first appeared in and is the title poem of my collection Lupercalia.