Maggie Woodward



I want to run barefoot
through the woods / tugging the sky behind me
like I need to show it something
            show it you
I want to hold the river’s hand
& bring it to you / I’d say
how special & shovel dirt
from my veins 

I want to look at you
the way the moon looks at me
the way it seems to say      how special
& come closer 

                        how often have I stood alone
at the kitchen sink / to wait for the running water
to warm? my hands prune / they are cleaned
in the torrent 

                        last week
flowers the color of my flushed cheeks
bloomed in the backyard / so I gathered them up
to prove it to you

                        I want to sing hymns in the alley
                        in our makeshift canyon
let’s drink moonshine / let’s throw glass
at brick walls 

let’s run barefoot
down a dirt road / clasp our hands
like communion

                        how often have I looked at this new
night sky & thought
it was forgiving me? 

how often have I stood at the kitchen sink
& smiled?

I need to tell you something / quick
I have tried to make this matter



every brier-patch daughter grieves with the fervor of her own fastidious vision of holy. I would not let myself be touched. I gathered daylilies & set the table for dinner. I wore an apron. I embroidered. the preacher crooned to all the blonde-headed children: blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. I said but I am a girlchild of the brier patch. yes I am Appalachia’s shinbone. Kentucky I hummed I am all of your blonde-headed children. oh mountains, oh distilleries, oh rivers named for my distant kin, I hear you whisper me into the thicket. I will cease pining for any love that isn’t wrenched from a grass-covered hill. the brambles birthed me to inherit Kentucky, the soft arcs of my flesh belong to the roses & to your mountains. all distilleries. I may never have a lover who will stand beside me & behold these hills I’ve come to cherish: all my righteous wild brier, all great spectacles of dirt. oh pastures, oh great & racing horses of my youth, I will not let myself be beaten. I’ll run fast. I was born draped in a blanket of roses. the brier patch birthed me, the brier patch spat me out in brambles. who here will tell me I was not born the product of love? yes I’ve grieved, oh Appalachia, I’ve sewn quilts from my own fastidious vision of holy: the blur of being just-yet gone. my Kentucky, my blonde-headed mountains & my wild-scrabble horses. mine, that bird. stop belonging to me so much.


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Maggie Woodward is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Mississippi, where she's Senior Editor of the Yalobusha Review and curates the Trobar Ric Reading Series. She's also a programmer for the Oxford Film Festival and a high school debate coach. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Axolotl Magazine, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, & wu-wei fashion mag, among others.