She has black dirt on her face.
The ruins of a garden plucked
for winter stain her hands.
She has scratched that greenery free
and bathed in the empty
soil, praying for next year’s harvest
with touches of bare arms and thighs.
She rubs the flesh of the earth,
places stones in her mouth
careful of her teeth
though she knows
this is ritual.
Her tongue rolls in the grit,
hips turn the ground like a spade.
She says, “I will starve myself for the gods
so I can grow poison in the spring.”
This poem won the first place prize for poetry at the 2008 Lex Allen Literary Festival at Hollins University, Virginia. Since then it was published in The Camel Saloon and nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2011 before finding its forever home in Lupercalia.
Photo Credits: wormwood, Prosperina (1870) Dante Gabriel Rossetti