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Editors' Pick

My Plot of Dirt

after Octavio Paz

Spring snows pink lips and you, beloved
plot of dirt, take me to your lily-of-the-valley bed,
rest my head on rising falls of flesh-drift
and mudslide. I reach for your fumbling finger,
you fill my gut with pebbles, roots.
Lift me from your lowland, count half-children
oozing from this body in the heat.
We’ve turned to our sacred-selves, stones
arranged as boundaries, barbed-wire gardens
protecting nothing but the early chive.
Have you noticed? We’re waxy, wrapped
in quilts of checkerberry. Pulled into your frost-
heave, I’m bitter in those snows of weeks ago.
Hyacinth pushes through sprigs of spearmint
and other invasive fears along your flank.
Flurries of white daffodil, handfuls
of crystal bonnet, fingernail-pinched and plucked
to bless my black-tipped frostbite.
I’m the only meat. Blood pudding on the broad
chest of your lawn. There are no feathers here,
no furs. In this verdant life, I sense the absence
of flesh outside myself. You’re my soil of many
textures, brown and green desire, composted,
light catcher of dust, my season without bees.
I turn you with a shovel, tease you with a smooth
oak handle. I’m perennial winter, dried herb,
and ours is impending vegetation, smoke
rising from a tree that doesn’t grow unless it burns.
Unfurl the naked fiddlehead of Christmas fern,
hooded Jack-in-the-pulpit. These petals haven’t
crystalized, my snows are not perfumed cherry blooms.
I pray, icicle tongued, to your peeping heads.


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