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Tiffany L. Thomas

at the altar of Demeter

While discussing the phenomenon of horse girls,
Isn’t it, he asked, something to do with sex?
There is the open and close of hips, the balance the sweat the softness of your wrists. You are training in hymen-stretching work,
A pubescent phallic substitution.
And when the steps go out of order, like a hoof overfoot is a rash of burst blood vessels, a red algae scar on the dorsal arch, like black eyes and kidney bruises like a fractured pelvis like you are on bed rest.
A fertility story at its inception.
The cult of horse girls gone to worship, slathered in witch hazel and leather soap and that purpleblack ointment with its echinops thistle brush. Rubbing your tongue over your teeth and tasting dust.
Don’t you know that sea foam looks like semen?
Labiatae cover the hills of Naxos. The temple can be reached by car. Your ankles ache. Your thighs tremble. You raise your arms and breathe the horse smell of your hands.

Greene County Pilgrimage

There is a river from my childhood
I go back there all the time.
Red silt bottomed and black glass topped
where nobody goes to die
and the past rises
belly up
in the current.

A foundation of generations.
speak easy,
look pleasing,
y’all can’t leave,
you’d best believe

It winds between half finished phrases
ain’t it thicker
seeps up beneath whispered words
thus sayeth
claiming all those ghosts we deny our breath
the very form from my lips
piled like stones
onto that soft, red bed.

But when the sky bottoms out, and the river overruns,
and the storm dredges up her body,
I fumble, hands slick,
against the weights tied around her throat
amongst a thousand humming voices --

hold her down
don’t talk it up
it’s flooding
this is nothing
eyes forward, little girl,
like drowning.

Under here,

behind the stitched up lips and milk glass eyes,

she looks like nobody at all.

There is a river from my childhood.
I go back there all the time.

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