Jessica D. Hand
The Beaten Dust Crowds The Light
In the valley of junked cars
between rows of dead voices
naming the morning-glories
twisting over rusted frames.
The metal's sinking back into
the hills. Her cracked hands open
into canyons and she's looking
for something pretty
to muffle her mother's sobs.
History gashes her bones; she knows
bones are not empty
something spongy fills the hollow.
Beneath her hands lantern mushrooms
expand and breathe. Her brain
and the mushrooms are wet and creased and brilliant.
Because her father's greased hands clang
inside car hoods and against her
mother's belled face
she believes they are metal. She understands
metal understands stone
water's slow artistry.
Her earth-caked hands splinter
silhouettes of her ancestors.
A worm stiffens in the dirt
two hand-lengths away from damp leaves.
She thinks of her vocal chords.
It's too dry despite the leaves and mushrooms.
Nothing pretty grows well.
Tires break into black dust.
When dusk breaks
blackness out of day, her mother calls
from behind porch-light and the blood-rust smell
of the screen door. She dirties the air with dust
as she drags her feet toward what's in the house,
as the porch-light dims with moth-wings
leaving darkness on the bare bulb.