a story is holy (used as medicine)

Playing light as a feather
after curfew with the girls
the crabgrass brown
my bare thighs, I lifted
it could peel all the way

stiff as a board in the backyard
we called ourselves witches
summer drought scratching
the edges of girlhood not realizing
back like bark like scabs on knees.

I’m trying to say
the women buried
fringing desert
even the sleeping sister
in purple coneflowers

what happened but they keep returning
beneath alligator juniper, sagebrush
greener this year for irregular monsoons, so
volcanoes have cloaked themselves
in yerba mansa & selfheal.

En la curandera’s jardín
their branch-limbs
bruised, emptied, sallow-
their faces, unnamed night.
feathers in my mouth
dry fields, cracked skullcap
the way edges of hearts

I rub their planked bellies
the way mama did when I came home
mooned. The newspaper yellows
I wriggled through dirt
the night he took me to drought-
weeds needling through rock
unwinding, find holes for digging.

Sana sana colita de rana
mama would sing me
If a frog’s tail falls off
is chopped off, if a frog’s tail
this season the tadpoles believe

si no sanas hoy sanas mañana
before I grew rocks for babies—
another one grows, if a frog’s tail
hides beneath the ground. So wet
they’re safe in the desert.

I was never a murdered
trying to make myself whole—

prostitute until
they found me
found me burying feathers

beneath board, found my bare
other in sod. No I was never
back flat & floated in air

body’s fraud, the one in which I stood
a murdered woman until I lay
like a cheap magic trick

turned me sheet turned me chains turned me saw box
for coffin for love.

the way we take
water for air

We believed in the game as girls
everything in when we’re swallowing
healing for lemon balm

more life for snake’s tongue.

The garden asks for my hands.

The garden asks nothing.