Where I am from, women have broken
fingernails that dig in the dirt
like badgers, looking for bones. Bones
mean yes, a lovely spot for pansies.
Plant two there. We scrub our hands
before dinner. We get the dead
dirt rubbed off our palms like it was bad,
what we did in the garden.
It’s always bad, what we do (in the garden.)

We water bone-grown flowers
with heads hung heavy like bells,
all wet and droopy like sad snails.
We water and water and keep watering,
water until it feels better, our heavy heads.
Mama says it will feel better. Keep watering.
And I always do what mama says.
When we are done watering, we dig
and scrub our hands before dinner.
It is hard to get dirt (in the garden)
off the bones and then we eat.

Allie Rigby is a Bay Area poet and educator with roots in the chaparral of southern California. Her poems are published in the 2019 anthology The Kerf Seeks, Manzano Mountain Review, Cholla Needles, Adelaide Literary Magazine, and Open Ceilings.

Her poems flicker between encounters with the wild, the tamed, and the awkward. Her big project right now is The Herd, as featured on her website.

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