Father dug me from the garden as handfuls
of clay. Mother shaped me like dough,
threaded me through with bones of cedar.
They etched words into my skin with a twig
of sage, with a penny nail, with the rib
of a mouse. Mother wove a bed of juniper bark
and laid me in the red dust at her feet
while she mended my father’s shirt. She sang
as the sun burnt my clay body to stone.
The letters my parents pressed into me, the scroll
they placed in the burrow of my mouth:
they did not hold the Name of God.
They were written in the alphabet
of evening primrose and snowmelt;
the taste of a rabbit between a coyote’s jaws.
Marie Johnson Parrish
Marie Johnson Parrish is a writer with roots all over the United States, most recently the Mountain West. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her work has appeared previously in Gingerbread House and is forthcoming in Black Candies.
Artwork: Natalia Drepina