—–after a photograph by Sally Mann
Mine are named Emmet, Jessie, and Virginia,
with a gaze like gall.
I step in close to photograph their bellies –
naked seed heads,
all the florets blown.
Emmet smashes a lens
into the petals of a rose
to ask if beauty can withstand attack,
his love locked
at an elbow cuffed with bracelets,
his limbs strung from twine.
Jessie grips a beetle in her fist,
daring weakling life to try.
Sick legs wriggle at her palm.
Virginia’s hands are empty
accusations of what she won’t receive.
River-cold, her anger
is to fear
as faith is to belief – radiant action,
call to revolutionary growth.
They are gruff as cherry pits,
looking for a purchase in the dirt.
Photo credit: Jaymie Koroluk