The title poem from my chapbook Lupercalia. Written back in Fall/Winter 2010 when I first started at Goddard’s MFA program. That means this poem is almost 10 years old!
Last year the city ran down to the frozen river. She threw her face against the rocks, the tatters of her brain crystallized as they oozed from her broken eyes. When we found her we combed the tangles from her hair, 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 on and on forever, crusted with burnt-sugar kudzu and the bones of lovers who will never return.
This year I eat a salt cake in her honor 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.