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Self Portrait As Daughter Stuffed With A Sack Of Pomegranates

One busted pipe beneath the sink where water and day-old carrot juice leaked and the rind of the avocado, misshapen testicle, the brown seed like a promise that all hardness comes to bear fruit, the dial of the cat’s paws mapping the stained concrete, a wet symphony of notes

imprecise and fleeting as I touch my face in the mirror with concealer after sopping up what I knew were the traces of last night’s dream, my father by a dry river bed, shadows between mesquite trees, black-blood-sap, trunks the width of a girl’s thigh, wind

toppling backwards into seams where water should cover stones, the dust of our deceased, the mirror explaining to me the uses of a life, or light, or mascara, of dabbing saffron red in the center and placing my father where I can see him as I drive to work, my car’s hood

pitted from semis on the highways that throw grit and gravel, the windshield with star- burst I haven’t yet bothered to get fixed, can’t bring myself to think too long on the miles I’ve driven to Texas, Colorado, stops in Arkansas and Tennessee where I slept

in a cabin on the edge of a dirt road, little fire in the stove, power lines arching the sky but inside I kept oil in the lamp, fire burning down, the thrushes in the twiggy branches scattered their divinity like popcorn kernels popped in air I can’t eat, or taste the things

I’ve refused, the liverwurst my boss spread on whole wheat, the giving up of coffee, sugar, meat; the times I vomited myself into believing I could heal this way, by emptying myself of me. The husband I stumbled behind until I spoke only in the softest syllables I could

find, the hush and dish of a wanna-be-mother to a newborn trying to keep him calm. Once I leapt like fire into a man and burned like a god asking what could come after me? Who could come after? I became a one-woman -apocalypse my bare-back ride into turquoise

calling it orange, calling it December, calling it wheat bending gold beneath your palm, sun- warmed and lit with tiny heads of flame, you learn to hold your father in you like you are a cradle, like every busted pipe in your life is the opposite of trouble, it is not metaphorical

or singing to you about rivers or the lake you walk to on the edge of what seems, what has always seemed, an almost memory, a snake-in-the-grass kind of lake, the hair-standing-up-on-the-back- of-your-neck kind of daughter, the thirsty kind of daughter with a sack of pomegranates instead

of a womb. She leaves seeds everywhere she goes, a constellation of juice, a geography of mouths she fills. She is in labor, like paradise opening between her legs, animals on the deck of her body, an ark strung in a tree that bends like a moon scar growing from the hole in her father’s head.

 

Osel Jessica Plante‘s poetry and flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2017 and 2019, the Best Small Fictions 2016 anthology, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Narrative, Mississippi Review, New Ohio Review, and others. Osel is the 2018 winner of the Meridian Editors Prize in poetry, finalist for the 2017 Elinor Benedict Prize at Passages North, finalist for the 2016 New South Journal Poetry Prize, finalist for the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize in 2016, and runner-up of the 2017 Meridian Editors Prize. Her first book Waveland was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2021. She earned an MFA from UNC-Greensboro and a PhD in Poetry at Florida State University. More can be found at oseljessicaplante.com.

I’ve refused, the liverwurst my boss spread on whole wheat, the giving up of coffee, sugar, meat; the times I vomited myself into believing I could heal this way, by emptying myself of me. The husband I stumbled behind until I spoke only in the softest syllables I could find, the hush and dish of a wanna-be-mother to a newborn trying to keep him calm. Once I leapt like fire into a man and burned like a god asking what could come after me? Who could come after? I became a one-woman -apocalypse my bare-back ride into turquoise calling it orange, calling it December, calling it wheat bending gold beneath your palm, sun- warmed and lit with tiny heads of flame, you learn to hold your father in you like you area cradle, like every busted pipe in your life is the opposite of trouble, it is not metaphoricalor singing to you about rivers or the lake you walk to on the edge of what seems, what has always seemed, an almost memory, a snake-in-the-grass kind of lake, the hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck kind of daughter, the thirsty kind of daughter with a sack of pomegranates insteadof a womb. She leaves seeds everywhere she goes, a constellation of juice, a geography of mouths she fills. She is in labor, like paradise opening between her legs, animals on the deck of her body, an ark strung in a tree that bends like a moon scar growing from the hole in her father’s head.

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