Wednesday Jan 19

Henning Poetry Sara Henning is the author of A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink 2013), as well as two chapbooks, Garden Effigies (Dancing Girl Press 2015) and To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press 2012).  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, Green Mountains Review, Crab Orchard Review, and RHINO. Winner of the 2015 Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she is currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as associate editor of Sundress Publications.

Aubade for My Love at Harvest and My Mother’s Lapsed Pomegranates

We live in a world of dark ripening, learning
to scythe the pulses, reap the last apophatic
kernel of corn. We learn to listen to what we
plow, even to the lymph node thralling 

across my lover’s chest as we wake in heat.
Doctors call it a sentinel, this lone shepherd
of conversion. A cellular Persephone with
pomegranate lymphocytes coxswaining

the spirits of healthy cells, urging them
to bend to tumor's blush wild sarcotesta.
Cancer ferrying through efferent vessel until
everything breaches with its seasonal

whelm. For years, I watched my mother
hew seed from rind like syllables uttered
by God. I watched her plunge them into basins
of water, rid them of pulp with hard cloth

strokes. I watched her lay their stained
and prostrated bodies on newspaper. I watched
her inter them, pale and yielding as my first
lost teeth, in pots of soil set in the kitchen

window’s refracting glare. All winter,
they preened under soil, lost children in calyx
crowns, and we were hopeful. When frost
ceased to pelt the windows of our duplex

at first light, despite the rooting hormone,
despite my mother’s singing, there was no
seedling to graft into the garden plot. As when
the pits of avocadoes nursed in mason

jars never split and surged their roots
into water, our hopeful curiosity turned
on us. Was it a lesson, the way we watched
seeds indulge in absence, the way once

Persephone was stolen away by Hades,
Demeter spurred her crops in a mother’s
mourning, and everything once fertile turned
cold? Is it a lesson, the way a sentinel

once ripened, can only keep ripening?
When Persephone took the flushed seeds
from Hades like hurried kisses, she
returned to Demeter transformed by

the taste of death’s fruit. When I map
my love’s body with my body now, I know
he’s a man already vibrant with another
summoned world. Like the seedlings

my mother failed to shepherd,
or Persephone’s restitution to her mother
each spring, I know he’ll never return
from this darkness untouched.

For My Sister, Miscarried

Something else
Hauls me through air—
—Sylvia Plath, “Ariel”

Fluxing through the last
known tor of lineages, she’s
a cellular breach,

not an arrow, just one
ectopic hymn quickening
from my mother’s other

mouth. I’m three,
watching my mother
thumb her body not

for traces of my father,
suicidal clusters of myogenesis,
but for a sign—my birth

the first thrown
insurgence, silky nectar
scraped from the petal.

She’s feral hydrangea
rioting all summer, another
bastard daughter

rotting the family vine.
Every known savior crests
from a woman’s body—

her body a combine
threshing chaff from straw with rasp
bars. I watch my mother

bind what’s left
of my sister in the skirt
haloing her ankles, burn

her like musk
thistle culled from my father’s
grave. I wait for the hole,

the blaze. For hours,
we choke on cinder,
salt, envy the only

cauldron-bound spirit
among us to quit her
mother’s body, fly.