By J.C. Reilly
To the north they name you for snow.
Here, others call you starving,
a stomach in a black, cold cavity,
that quivers with want—for Spring’s
green blush, for bayous to jump banks,
for rabbits to bounce from warrens.
Those labels deceive: you are full
and warm as an unnursed udder
that craves a calf’s curling tongue,
as I crave the Gift the White Army
lays siege to—they seize lavender
and sage she sends in a valentine,
substitute unnatural sleep and physic,
spirit-bitter. Tonight I do not swallow
their famine moons, but suckle, gorge your light.
the hayloft like Sherman to the sea,
scorching straw bales, a battered plough,
a chicken or two. The sheets before me,
blank as midnight, halt your progress—
but feverish again, you flick at me
with shovels of fire, singe fingertips and soul
until they blister, until language bursts
free like a fox who cannot hear the bloodhounds
but feels them in the thrum of its pulse—
pages aflame with new verse, but at a cost—
Tonight a sacrifice will be made:
something hunted must fall, and blood be let.
J.C. Reilly is the author of La Petite Mort, a chapbook from Finishing Line Press, and a collaborator on an anthology of occasional verse, On Occasion: Four Poets, One Year, from Poetry Atlanta Press. She has work published or forthcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Kentucky Review, Compose: a Journal of Simply Good Writing, Glassworks, and The Citron Review. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and cats, and plays tennis when she’s not writing. You can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter as @Aishatonu.