They say children born on the wrong side
of the river grow wild as fleabane
and do not return until Spring,
their veins all grass stems and cricket legs,
and that wild scuttles straight from their eyes
over the creekbed and slips over the birdfoot violet
into the sandstone,
A mother cannot look at them directly—
their pupils might crumble like dry mud under a thumb.
But Ora could not get to the other bank
for the flood washing the river’s cobble
and the mussels loose from their shells
and her husband gone to the camp.
So her baby’s hands uncurled as bluet and phlox,
her heart a hard walnut, shriveled and shut,
her bloody mouth a kiss on her mother’s thigh.
“Jacob’s Ladder.” Journal of American Folklore. 126.502 (2013). Print.