—–after a photograph by Sally Mann

Mine are named Emmet, Jessie, and Virginia,
bare-chested children
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