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.
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 www.saramoorewagner.com
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