Planting Season

- Jessica Jo Horowitz -

The only way I know to keep your name
is to devour it, swallow it whole
when they would have buried you
under silence and left you for dead,
or worse, forgotten.
It’s the only way I know to bring you with me,
past fences, past coils of barbed wire and blood,
past checkpoints where they search my bags,
turn out my pockets, but never check
the hidden places beneath my tongue.
They cannot stop me from smuggling you out,
a secret only we can pronounce.

I carry you over salt seas, never speaking,
my silence the tithe to keep you safe,
the shape of your sound a reminder
of all the places we never fit,
until I arrive at the banks of the rushing river,
damp earth ready to receive you,
whose roar opens, makes space, understands
that a welcome is not an entitlement.
Your name by now has grown to legend,
fed from all the words I never spoke,
fat on all the stories I never told.

I press myself to the ground, bite deep into the soil,
and whisper your name, over and again.
I plant the sound deep, a seed
tamped down by passing feet, unwatered.
The clouds hang pregnant above our heads,
cumulus misers, hoarding unshed rain
like memories rolled over stilled tongues,
each moment a monsoon in the making.

I wait each moment softly
until the fields grow once more fertile,
fecund with both the sound of my voice,
and the memory of your space,
to fill with blooming amaranth,
each grain one secret, one whisper, one name
written in brilliant vermillion,
spilling from the open throat beneath my feet.

And I will once more hold a mouthful
tucked behind my teeth, abundant and bursting.
Countless fragile silences
crushed beneath the weeds.
This time not a secret, but a shout,
my mouth open, overflowing the firmament,
an echo so loud that to erase you now,
they would need steal the breath
from their own lungs.

© 2019 by Jessica Jo Horowitz


Born in Korea, Jessica Jo Horowitz now writes speculative poetry and fiction in New England, where she balances her aversion to cold with the inability to live anywhere without snow. Previous works appear in Apparition Lit, Fireside, Flash Fiction Online, and others. She occasionally has feelings and opinions, which can be found on Twitter @transientj.