Margaret Cipriano


                Start here: a basket of rusted bones
                               and the muddy riverbank I drop
                               them off. Say goodbye with a bullet, a kiss,
a Viking funeral. In my pocket, stone tongues
                discuss my leaving, my gift to currents,
                and I search for things in pairs. Reflection is like that.
                               The mockingbird overhead steals my voice—tells me, me,
                We’re all just looking for something to burn.
                               How hard to find a spark? Here: a match
to run down my body, a mouth full
                of nickels. Don’t scream yet, I tell myself.
Morning will taste like blood.
                There will be feathers in my hands.


Under dark dirt, the loam I separate and excavate,
I marvel at these small crawlers; their bones I can touch.
How different to live in inverse, underground and inside
out. Here, I probe for roots, fingers dumb-blind and reaching.
When we touch, I turn medieval, rip limb
from limb, toss into paper body bag.

In this garden, I choose what lives and dies.
It’s so easy, I bend without hesitation—
I bend like rain, bend and infiltrate.

O, sunless, wild botany in black and white,
to be chosen like that, singled-out.
My brief power knows we, too, are removed—
are sick and special. I don’t want to give myself up
quite yet. If I hold my hands together, let’s not say prayer.
Let’s say keeper of something dark gold and waiting.


Margaret Cipriano is currently pursuing my MFA at The Ohio State University and serves as the Associate Managing Editor of The Journal. Her poems have appeared in Oak Orchard Review.