Firstroots

by Sherre Vernon

My hands in the dirt, fingers growing, spreading
tangling among the worms, pillbugs—I plant cicadas
this way, the redwood humming, and birds: not pennies, exactly
or blood, this rainwork. Cool to the ground, running below
the watergreen. Cement turns. What is rain, but dust settling—
the trees in choralhowl, the footpath in soloache: oh, I know
the heat of treewhistles, here at the end of Joy
Street where we brought you, my daughter, at just six weeks: oh, my bones
have been here for generations, in the desert valley, in the mountain shadow—
my freckles, the mottled truth of it: I am filament among the dry dirt,
among the star-sky: oh I am leathered, jerked
for the long trip. This is the point: when the body’s wet is gone, what’s left
is what sustains you. This must be what Christ meant
when he said, here eat of my body. Here, eat of my body: the summergrown girl
of nohome: oh desert, life-giver, mother, lush and fruitful—
My hands, firstroots. My spine a path of stones for the wilder-rabbit, my womb,
my womb, my womb. oh Sher: she remembers other deserts. Here
is your beginning: mudslide rain, windrent storm, she comes, full-hipped,
oh, this vinehouse growing—I’m calling all my granddaughters here, and each
is answering: thistlethistle, pawspark, pebbledew & starbloom. And
—finally, my feet, too, are still.


Sherre Vernon is a seeker of a mystical grammar and a recipient of the Parent-Writer Fellowship at The Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She has two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings (fiction) and The Name is Perilous (poetry). Readers describe Sherre’s work as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent. To read more of her work visit www.sherrevernon.com/publications and tag her into conversation @sherrevernon.


This poem was previously published in Feral.

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