The Siege of Jerusalem, AD 70
The mother of bone and prison looked at her daughter through gray hunger, their room filled with all the things they had not yet devoured:
a metal cookpot, a stone, a dull blade. After the food, they had eaten a leather strap,
then their clothes; they gnawed at wooden bowls and furniture, scratched at the floor
for handfuls of dirt, arachnids, cobwebs. They chewed their own hair. Five years before, the mother had harbored and borne the child, nursed the babe from her own fat. But this morning the mother woke chilled to find herself alone on the dirt floor, the child beside her transformed into a piglet, tender, warm, breathing.
The mother did not wake the girl before raising the heavy stone to crack the skull.
When she was sure the child would never wake, the woman cut out the tongue, which yesterday was still rolling with difficulty over r and s. She roasted it over a small fire, chewed thoughtfully on each time the muscle had called out her name.
She removed the soft arm from the shoulder—the slow sawing of the knife—
and she carefully picked tiny cooked muscles from the little hand which was once enclosed by her own, the hand which was once hers. How did the laughter of the belly taste? Did she feel the miles of the little feet as she stewed them in a bit of murky water? Did she say to the child as she worked over this last meal, Here now, I will take you back inside me where you can be safe again, and when the time is right, I will gladly give birth to you again. And we will be together, always, always, my little one: between my legs, between my breasts, between my teeth.
First published in Chiron Review, Issue 110, Winter 2017
On a Wednesday evening, we approach the altar,
and my young daughter dips her hand
into a basin of water once blessed for her
once blessed for me:
the small mystery allowed Protestants.
Like the water of summer splash parks,
it delights and enlivens, and I wonder what other
common mysteries are held in water—in bubble baths
and swimming pools, in a drink of water at bedtime—
all quenching the dust of our bodies,
holding us together, keeping us hopeful
that death will delay a little longer,
my daughter’s soft skin
pink in the first cold spring wind.
First published in Metonym, Issue 7
Other Recent Publications
“Orpah Running Free,” “Alchemy,” and “Siberian Squill,” forthcoming in Dappled Things
“Native Body, ” Noctua Review, Volume X: Neo/Americana, free online
“Speaking with the Maple” and “Woman, Kind,” The Madison Review, Fall 2015, free online
“The Siege of Jerusalem, AD 70,” “Boys,” and “Bringing my Mother Home for the Last Time,” Chiron Review, Issue 110, Winter 2017
“Desertion,” Hummingbird, Volume 27, Number 2
“A Woman Examines her Strength,” The Phoenix Soul, Inner Truth
“Reasons Why You Love Me,” The Phoenix Soul, Messy Grace
“Habitation,” “Sophomore,” and “To Dust,” Metonym, Issue 7
“Spring Cleaning,” Hummingbird, Volume 27, Number 1
“Raft,” Big Muddy, Issue 16.2
“Salmon and Child,” Stoneboat, Issue 6.2
“El Shaddai” and “Feathers,” Minerva Rising, Issue 10: Body Image
“Night Afloat,” Hummingbird, Volume 26, Number 1
“Off We Go,” Wisconsin Review, Issue 48.1
“Answering,” Anglican Theological Review, Summer 2015
“The Stripping,” Rock & Sling, Issue 9.1
“Old Stories,” The Phoenix Soul, Legacy
“Thoughts after I forgot the granola in the oven while watching Grey’s Anatomy,” The Phoenix Soul, Revolution
“Mystic,” The Phoenix Soul, Unity
“Bike Ride,” The Phoenix Soul, Comfort
Sprout Online Magazine, Wander
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Sprout Online Magazine, Discover
Raised in Clay, Ceramics Monthly.
Paul Eshelman’s Handled Soup Bowl, Pottery Making Illustrated
“Paul Eshelman’s Handled Soup Bowl.” Clay & Cuisine: Techniques for the Studio, Recipes for the Kitchen, Ed. Holly Goring. The American Ceramic Society, 2017.