Winter's Carol

Winter's Carol

October 03, 2022




Winter's Carol

by Sara Moore Wagner



The autograph tree, a single rose, 
white with that fragile yellow eye

opens, excretes red seed clusters, 
drops them into the earth, soil bloody

as the hand of Salome who checked Mary 
for purity, whose hand was devoured 

by the fetal savior, still in womb, her fingers 
extinguished to bone. 

What shock to find a child 
can transform you. 

Once, the Lord in flesh was like this:
strangler fig and tentacled. 

Tell me—who gets to live (the self, himself). 
Salome got back the use of her hands 

only when she stopped searching so hard 
for that broken bit of hymen to imply 

yes, no one has been here before me, no one
lovingly opened the blossom with a long tongue, 

like a butterfly. That child—pitch
apple, distinct marker of the father,

so loved the word, so loved all 
the invasive exotics, he transported 

each seed across oceans, planted 
in the bellies of the women a long 

itch and irritation, born in clusters, 
elemental and all consuming.

Like that tree, he smothers 
and replaces, lays waste. Invades.







Portrait of Sara Moore Wagner

Sara Moore Wagner is the author of two prize winning poetry collection, Swan Wife (Cider Press Review, 2022), and Hillbilly Madonna (Driftwood Press, 2022), and two chapbooks. She is a 2022 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient, and a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation awardee. Find her at



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