September

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Snakeroot, may apple, cotton root,
hot baths and pennyroyal—
she’s collecting seeds, potions in brown jars.

How she wanted to miscarry,
but she still felt it in her breasts,
heavy pressed against Saturday night’s dress.

Rue, the morning-after-
pill, mustard baths
but the seed went astray, multiplying.

She remembers July, the sultry sky
when she kissed him—
how the last star winked, said yes.
Yes at 3:00 a.m. tangled in secrets
and sweat. Oh, the wine, stars and seeds!

No wishes upon these late stars,
already spent. Leaves fall
yellow, brown and ash.

She chokes on the fumes—
nauseous in a Greyhound heading
south for the procedure.
The child inside her runs and hides,
a fugitive in her body.

In Fargo, gin and tonic and strong cigarettes
to gather lost thoughts,
crossing borders, ripe fields and dairy cattle.

Alone in the prairie landscape: terrible grey seeds
and sky sink in her belly. Fallen leaves.
She wants to forget September.

—Candice G. Ball

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