ROOTS (THE PEDREGAL) 

         *First published in The Rain, Party

after Frida Kahlo

I am vined to my apartment,
the floor is dirt
but my sandals can stand the
swell of hot earth each long
June day.

Through the grim
window, everything curls purple
and green,
cabbages wilting on my mother’s
cutting board floor

Starch folds over my belly
and I hide my hand beneath a leaf;
can you blame me?

My bones shift and the earth
cracks open, mouths gaping
at the promise of water.

 

TAKING A BATH IN FRIDA KAHLO'S TUB

         *Finalist for the NC State Poetry Prize

after "What the Water Gave Me" 

There were too many bodies
lolling in the water and it was getting
too cold to watch the corpses
bubbling grotesquely, the set for some horror-film
in my bathtub. 

By now the water is cool and goose pimples
foxtrot across my breasts, still frosted
with the strands of stranded foam, lost
when the waters receded.

But there is a plant between my thighs now,
a boat in the water, and instead of leaves, a bird
in a tree. 

How I yearn to sunbathe next to
the man on the volcano erupting Chicago
or New York—he looks hard. The bark of a good man
is solid, his chest like the trunk of an oak.

My right foot, cracked by the inattentiveness
of others. I see this, too, in my face on winter
mornings when I’ve let my fingernails grow too long.


JESSE RICE-EVANS is a Southern poet and rhetorician. She is a doctoral student in the English program at the CUNY Graduate Center and the author of several chapbooks, including NOON (dancing girl press, 2018) and HONOR // SHAME (Gap Riot Press, forthcoming). Read her nonfiction and poetry in Heavy Feather Review, Monstering, Entropy, FIVE2ONE, and The Wanderer, among others. She teaches queer texts and composition at the City College of New York.