by Canese Jarboe
South of Houma, I walk through sugar cane and my heart
is full of long leaves bristling. This mud, I know by heart.
It sucks at the soles of my feet, licking tender the arch
and webbing of my toes. O most pure heart of Mary,
full of goodness. I eat black snake, bite into tense cord
of muscle, swallow the delicate bones. I save the heart
for last. Here, there are a hundred tongues. Each bayou
lingers and I wait until dark to hide my face, mon cœur.
I have not seen my face, but I can feel it. To comfort
myself, I rub my jowl. I will rub until raw and hurt.
You would not know me. I wear the dress blooming
purple hyacinth. O sorrowful and immaculate heart
of Mary. With the tide, my memory gives an inch. Still,
I have icing sugar, the crawling jasmine vines, a heart-
breaker: you. I recall the hurricane in June, screaming
to let her in. Instead of an eye, she had a furious heart.
The edges of the moon have been sharpened, oilstone
of sky dark against the sickle that will cut to the heart
of this field. They say that I am hunting for a heart,
but in all this time I have only ever starved for yours.
Holy Queen, have pity on the loneliness of my heart
that shivers in this jelly jar, unknotting bow of twine.
Canese Jarboe does not have a coat of many colors, but she does have a pair of cowboy boots in every color. She was born on a small farm on the cusp of the Ozarks. Currently, she is an MFA candidate in poetry at University of Idaho, where she serves as managing editor for Fugue. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in New South, The Adroit Journal, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and elsewhere. Recently, she was chosen as a finalist for the 2016 Yemassee Poetry Contest.