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.