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Traci Brimhall

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Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W. W. Norton, 2012). She teaches at Kansas State University and lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

by this poet


Before she died, my mother told me
I’d make the monster that would kill me,
so I knew this was someone else’s death
creeping into my field, butchering my cow.
I recognized its lone eye and two mouths.
Perhaps it mistook the lowing for the call
of its own kind. I didn’t mind the heifer

The first time I saw my mother, she'd been dead 
fourteen years and came as a ghost in the mirror, 

plucking the hair beneath her arms, and humming 
a bossa nova. She lotioned her chapped heels 

and padded her bra as if she were alive in the old way. 
She said I was born with my cord wrapped 

around my neck
We crawl through the tall grass and idle light,

our chests against the earth so we can hear the river

underground. Our backs carry rotting wood and books

that hold no stories of damnation or miracles.

One day as we listen for water, we find a beekeeper—

one eye pearled by a cataract, the other cut out by