by Jennifer Wilson


my mother gets her tricks

from the grave


as she digs them

she opens her mouth to the earth

and swallows everything

the rocks and the worms


with her blackened teeth

she makes prayer

shrill as a magpie

looking for the light of god

glint on polished stone


the calling of the birds blackens the sky

with a vastness of wings

gathered from the trees and spread

to the turning of the sun


and reticent the corpse

winds itself free of the folded sheet

and smiles anew


bidden by the birds it tugs

the teeth clean of its head

and hands them

to my mother who keeps them

comfortably in her own


behind her teeth the others speak

a chorus rich in iron


she chews but does not swallow

and the rattles

and the rot

the swilling of the roots reveals

piecemeal the magic

and the language of the dead

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