From the Current Issue of The Antioch Review
FOR THE BIRDS
by Cathryn Essinger
At the farmer’s market the grocer has decided
to give me a Bible lesson as I fumble for my wallet
to purchase a squash.
This one is called the Crown of Thorns, he says,
to remind us of the cross, and here are ten spokes,
one for each of the commandments.
I give the grocer his money, but my sympathy is
with the squash, whose nature has been hijacked
by religion. It fills my palm
with its hefty promise and I suspect it of knowing
the true art of resurrection—seeds packed
into a sinewy cave,
where the pulp is so fragrant that time holds still.
When I split the ovum with a knife I reveal
a space so private
that I am embarrassed to have looked, flesh as pale
as the new moon, and an aroma so seminal that
it stains all thought.
With the sharp edge of a spoon, I scrape out the seeds,
and then holding the soft entrails in one hand
throw it all to the birds.
Cathryn Essinger is the author of three volumes of poetry—A Desk in the Elephant House, My Dog Does Not Read Plato, and What I Know About Innocence. She is a member of The Greenville Poets and a retired professor of English. She is currently teaching poetry workshops and learning Japanese. Konichiwa! Her work has appeared most recently in The Southern Review, and The Alaska Quarterly.
©2014 The Antioch Review