Saturday, April 22, 2006

my great great great

grandmother’s ghost, half-German botanist
half-Scottish horse trader
smells like chalk and salt water

moves like a phosphorescent jellyfish
above the trees
petticoats blazing

has a spider on her left shoulder
that catches robins, stings the feet
of unfaithful fathers

she was mother to 13 children
three who lived to come to America
and scrabble through the garbage
for spoiled onions and cabbage
to feed their daughters

who crouched in abandoned
rooms dug into the earth

shamed by their lack of shoes
the holes in their skirts
the stench that soap made of sand
couldn’t clean away

they gave birth in
dirt-floored shacks in Colorado,
Oklahoma, and had daughters

some who threw themselves
under the wheels of pick-up trucks

some who had hooves for feet
and could fly

some who drove those pick-up trucks
away into the horizon our grandmother
cracked open with her teeth

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