mantra review

Fall 2018


Smoldering Youth

A patchwork of rough, hitched cotton over a heritage
of skinned knees, heart disease, vast arrays of farmland
land-fill wonder. Ruth’s mother, a smoldering youthful
seamstress in a lamp lit room. Water stains, a halo beyond
her pinned tight hair. And heaved floors, true matriarchs
of log homes, homesteading cabins, outbuildings, demise.

She pedals the Singer, hums a hymn, thinks of obliteration
now Dark Angels, now girlhood friends. Deep into her roots
she reaches, fingernails thick with toil & potatoes & neglect
the Midwest dust descending like lanolin into her pores, dry
for mosquitoes in spring, nosebleeding air beyond autumn,
November. After funnel clouds, bulbous with hatred, prime

the topsoil, debris, lawn chairs, small fractions of iron-age
implements & mother’s cellar door for transfer to slaughter—
She, a nameless bonnet beneath stateless origins behind
bar-less fences beyond waterless clouds, strikes an inherited
match to light his pipe. Lingers in smoke dense as loamy
cream, sucks it in through her nose like a lady nursing

a sigh. She could be a thimble, a nail, saddle tack, a wellspring
whatever the clay eats in baked over pasture, daylight
wringing out the white-top and the clover, leaving acres
of octagonal mud pans as barren as his hands, stones
beneath his callouses. Hardwood beneath his chest. Roots
chain her to this cabin and in this cabin she stays apart

from world wonders—hell, even the state fair—on the other
side of free. On the lined side of the paper, a list, first
she has stitch-counting fingertips, her dough-kneading roots
end in palms full of capillaries. She has dirty blonde waking
hours and melanotic churning sleep. On Tuesdays, pipe smoke
until he takes his 15 minute nap. She has Wednesdays, fields

Wednesdays, tillage
Wednesdays, exceeding
Wednesdays, destruction
Wednesdays, to take care of
Wednesdays, youth
Sundays—                                   there, in the background

She, in ag-land grade school takes up the virgin, traditionless
hands of her pigtailed friend, holds them over springtime alfalfa
whispers a hymn—rain song for freckles to collapse beneath motherhood

S.A. Leger is a biologist and writer from Colorado. After studying zoology and English at Colorado State University, she spent time researching the flora and fauna of Tasmania, of the islands of Puget Sound during her masters, and for the last six years, of Newfoundland. Leger currently works as a marine biologist aboard the Ramform Hyperion.

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