M. L E N O I R B O N D
My parents always wanted me to have children. Finally,
at the age of 43, I gave birth to a beautiful carnation. Bright red,
jagged soft edges. The scent of spice, cream, honey, and a fresh
herbal green, so green, like cilantro. I gently tousled the ridges,
softly kissed every petal, cooing a song I suddenly recalled from
childhood. My chest ached, my middle grew hollow. I knew
no one would believe me. I planted it in the garden. The next year
I gave birth to a small flock of geese. I told two family members—
they didn’t know what to believe. I think they assumed it was simply
a fit of metaphor. I’m probably better off letting them think that.
That must have hurt, my family winced and winked.
No, not at all, they were soft and smooth and much smaller than
human babies. The geese told me their birth through me was
an honor. Shh. I had to explain, people of my species just call you crazy
if you go around saying things like that. I sent them on their way,
gliding in a summer wind. And then I had a triplet birth of daisies,
who never survived the winter. Tried to dig up roots, but a gopher
must have taken them. It was a whole two years later,
in the midst of midlife, I gave birth to an entire juniper tree. I was in
bed for months after that one, but it wasn’t as awful as you’d think.
Its shape was like water at first, slipped from me like a silvery
stream. Though exhaustion and postpartum were extreme,
as if under a heavy trance, it almost knocked me out completely.
I was in the garden the night when the tree birth happened,
and within minutes, the blue juniper was already the same age as me.
You’d think it would have made a home there, with me,
the carnations, and daisy graves, but I faintly saw it slip away, on
ever-thickening roots. How they scraped the earth like a long Zen
rake. And how the first drops of rain fell in perfect patterns
between each line, as nearby petals fluttered down to fill every
other inch. I grabbed at her limbs, their unintentionally sharp twig
fingers poked and scratched my arms, like a frightened cat.
The fragrant needles sticky on my reddening skin. So here I am,
a season later, caught between menstruation and perimenopause—
though nobody likes to hear those words—with all my fever
flashes and fatigue, strands of whitening hair. The bees
have been extra active in the garden lately, odd for early spring.
The sight of them makes me dizzy. I’m craving honey.
WATCHING THE HIGH PRIESTESS
Tonight she’ll sit inside the circle,
drawing down the moon
on a silver chain, knitting green
leaves for the black oak
while stars chant her name in tongues that sound like
crickets and gold being melted for a charm.
I watch her through the smog-streaked window,
her thin fingers weave the air, I can see flaked red nail polish.
The wind blows the scent of cinnamon from her hair.
Clusters of honey mushrooms gather
on darkened bark above her head—
as if cocktail umbrellas adorn. So delicate,
a flash rain could knock them down into her lap.
They’d transform into a basket of bruised seashells.
She has the power, just like nature, to do that,
change one form to another, like water.
I could open the window, climb down the fire escape,
ask her to do whatever she is doing, if she could,
for me as well. Something’s got to change for me soon.
Lighting a gardenia candle, I mimic her words as best I can,
copy the fluid movements of her hands.
I slow my breath so as not to snuff out the flame.
I own one jar of sugar, some peppermint, an amethyst.
Tomorrow, I could leave them for her under the tree
just before the sunlight performs that trick where it
disperses and settles into wishing stars.
Even washing the dishes: if you close your eyes,
the slip of soap, bubbles popping under your
fingers, the ceramic, porcelain, held
gentle but firm—I’ve broken too many glasses with
my strong grip. So, I stop and make my mind settle.
I drink a big mug of tap water, still taste the morning’s
hazelnut coffee, a residue. I squeeze lime, there,
take that, you beautiful flavor in my mouth. Tastes
the way pine cleaner smelled in my mother’s
olive-green and burnt-orange kitchen.
I smell rebirth of citrus yellow, see my old stupidly
frilly dresses hiding boney bruised knees from
too much competitive tree-climbing with the boys.
I thought I had no more time for this, or any other small
miracles. My eyes drop to wander, search the dusty window.
I think of rose gardens. I smell breakfast. There’s a proper
timing to the perfect slice of toast—don’t turn your back on it.
The golden rich oily butter merges nicely with the sour
lime, its bitter acid, and I decide I’ll put lime on everything:
In my soup, on my broccoli, oatmeal, already bergamot
in the Earl Grey tea I’m sipping. A good gin drink will mix
lime with the taste of juniper, cucumber, and rose petal.
I bet Adam convinced Eve to eat a lime
before she handed him that apple.
M Lenoir Bond graduated from University of Southern California with a BA in English/Creative Writing and Theatre, and holds a MFA from Pacific University in Writing/Poetry. She has published online journalistic pieces about silent films and fairy tales, and serves as a fiction co-editor for The Molotov Cocktail and poetry co-editor for Phantom Drift. M is also a winner of The Virginia Middleton Award for poetry and has work published in Prairie Schooner, Best New Poets, december magazine, The Johns Hopkins University Project MUSE website, Phantom Drift, Rust + Moth, Belletrist, COMP: an interdisciplinary journal, and more. M lives in Oak Grove, Oregon with her husband and two indoor rabbits.