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by julia bouwsma



I slice my spade into it, crawl along the damp rows, squeeze seeds

into its clotted mouth until my knees bleed dirt, until mud splits

my palms like a river delta. Count the stones shrouded with saplings

behind the rusted cemetery gate—the firstborn of this land. Their hands

are rotted to nothing now. Soak beans in a paper cup. Watch

their blanched skins peel to yellow, water-damaged as the pages

of an old genealogy book. I bend to my work. I rake this hungry

earth until my footsteps disappear. Faint green tendrils twist

out of the leaf rot to whisper in my ear: This is what it means to arrive.




*previously published in Midden

Julia Bouwsma lives off-the-grid in the mountains of western Maine, where she is a poet, farmer, editor, and small-town librarian. She is the author of two poetry collections: Midden (Fordham University Press, 2018) and Work by Bloodlight (Cider Press Review, 2017). Honors she has received include the 2019 and 2018 Maine Literary Awards,the 2016-17 Poets Out Loud Prize, and the 2015 Cider Press Review Book Award. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in Cutthroat, Grist, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, RHINO, River Styx, and other journals. She serves as Library Director for Webster Library in Kingfield, Maine.

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