Stephanie Dickinson


          EMILY DIRT

Barbed wire in front and slough behind

mire and thistle on either side, I want

to float over the green throat of the ditch.

I am without hands but at my words

the daughter who fell into the iron vat

stands again on the ladder in her muslin dress.

I am without legs but at my command

the prairie grass and wild onion lean

and echoes scatter their pebbles—

you left your girl alone with the boiling soap.

You had a mouth then to call with.

Why is this pasture passing through me?

My shoulder is full of timothy.

Indian paintbrush thrusts from my hips.

Milkweed breathes from my rib cage.

I am left gnawing and the child stays lost,

but here are the wild strawberries

lush like my grandfather’s head

that the priests chopped in Prague,

—that was real blood, gutters of it.

How can I stay afloat when moth orchids

stuff themselves into my gullet?

I had feet but now only caps and stems.

Mushrooms burden each toe, grass takes

my name. Sun remains—skillet-iron,

an anvil. I am vanishing—fingernails,

hair, skin becoming clouds, bones

nests for the wrens, even guilt withers.

Yet it keeps hurting this turning to dirt.

Copyright © 2003 Stephanie Dickinson.  All Rights Reserved.

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