Sunday Literary Series Presents: Sofia Starnes



by Sofia Starnes

The earth is our great mother and the stones

Within earth’s body surely are the bones

The oracle intends.

(Metamorphoses: Ovid. Trans. A. D. Melville)

Let us suppose for once,

in our intimate illusion, the metaphor

is true.  The ant, nervate, exhausting, vexes

through flesh-fields, into earth’s

fragrant udders for its milk; the spigot

pours an ocean into pail, the evening

falls on metal ears, light treading

lifelike in this shell.  All flutter, wink

of wings, must snap out of the strong,

peculiar outbreak of a leaf,

a single spit of wind; the odd kiss mating

March to April year to year.

The worm partakes of this;

the gopher frets and burrows under skin

we must call ours: brown, humid, slug-

filled—quelling throbs as crust

of a secluded heart we recognize.

Thus would we soak in one soft tissue

the day’s outpouring of pain,

downfall of pears and peaches at the edge

of half-crazed beds. Thus would we

explain the squeezing, tightening

lungs in chase of air, long-taken, gulped

by others with our breath.

There may have been no other foot-

prints in our trek from quietness to quake,

from nothingness to whimper, bang

or bubble, whisper swelling into roar.

One naked, mute amoeba prior to clear

voice; yeast plugged into a moist

desire and gestured….

Be food, risen as auburn challah to consume—

Be that consuming body tumbling down to seed.

Sofia Starnes is the author of The Soul’s Landscape, selected by Billy Collins as a winner of the Aldrich Poetry Series Prize (Aldrich Museum Press, 2002); A Commerce of Moments (Pavement Saw Press, 2003), Editor’s Prize in the Transcontinental Poetry Award competition and subsequently named Honor Book in the 2004 Virginia Literary Awards; and Corpus Homini: A Poem for Single Flesh (Wings Press, 2008), winner of the Whitebird Chapbook Series Prize. Her next full-length book, Fully Into Ashes, is forthcoming, also by Wings Press.

The earth is our great mother and the stones

Within earth’s body surely are the bones

The oracle intends.

(Metamorphoses: Ovid. Trans. A. D. Melville)

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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