The Seed Collector – Guest Poem by Beth Townsley

The Seed Collector

Your mother wasn’t born
but made
a slick pillar of stiff salt
when she looked back
as women will.
And whatever went on nights
in daddy’s glistening tent
staked hard and tight
in the red sand of your story
you have now brought forth
those seeds into our village
collected
into the long pockets
of your sweat soaked robe
to be brought out
like secrets
set out like plants
watered like cacti
handed, given, released
to me
one by one
where like Crassulas
they flower
in the shade of the fickle catalpa
which barely survives this desert.

Even with the harlot of war discarded
brimstone fails to rain
or char the traffic in women
or sear those neat rows of tents in Zoar
or parch the shepherds amidst their flocks.
Destruction locked like a cedar door
at the top of your throat
opened
could bring down cities
to ashes and dust.

Genealogies carved
on the long side of your bones
are buried
fossils
in the dry death of sand
to be preserved
for ages untold
along side the seeds
of our garden of mysteries.

My hoe strikes
the ground. My spade turns
it loose and open
to take the seeds
gathered there
and alter history.

© Beth Townsley, January 2019.

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