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two poems /megan merchant


for Hortensia

silk sutures link us like marionettes / drips that freeze over bark

before descending / you can’t hear the water’s urge unless it’s rushing / you are my flood subject now / I scrub a blue bowl in a chipped basin / drip my hair with lavender / dream about sterile rooms / a salpingectomy / slender trunk / how did you carry, was it low / a diviner whispered my daughter’s names into my palms / a pit from a sweet rotted fruit appeared under the juniper / I would like to have one of your early apples, you wrote / was that prayer / on the coldest days mountain lions grit their teeth outside my window / their chatter sounds like church bells / after a hard freeze , did you stand on the Mississippi and not think of drowning / your nightgown floating white and clean as wind / did you listen


They promised that you were set apart for something holy

for Hortensia

Did you dream about oceans while you were mud-stuck in the Mississippi, something you couldn’t see the banks of, like faith? Salt, birdwing, a weekday sneak of sour wine. You were all scripture and scrub oak, miracles that profited man. On Sundays, I open the dictionary, look for words you might have hummed, words that will peel the generations between us. Are your eyes hazel, do they shift in the onslaught of spring? The blue of needing another body to remind you of your own? Did you feel desire but give it your husband’s name?


Megan Merchant (she/her) is the co-owner of and lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). Her latest book, Before the Fevered Snow, was released in April 2020 with Stillhouse Press ( NYT New & Noteworthy). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and most recently the Inaugural Michelle Boisseau Prize. She is the Editor of Pirene’s Fountain. You can find her poetry and artwork at

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