Back to Issue Seventeen.

operation mercury, 1941



Silence falls, surrenders. Limb to limb,
Green Devils hang from trees
like the first figs of the season.

This is the mystery of hunger.
Under a cave’s blue arch,
a girl squats by a woman

who cradles cloth in her arms.
Cradles and talks and talks.
The girl watches the woman

chew and spit bread to the lips
of the small still flesh now pressed
against her dry breast. The girl

shoves dirt into her doll’s mouth.
Someone chants prayers or shouts
of artillery chime outside. Oh God

the girl hides her eyes,
and a sweet scent rises in the heat.
She curls into her butter dress. Loose

in the thievery of a dream the woman
opens her arms to reach a branch
where an olive still clings,

beckoning to be. She rents
the garments of the tree. The pit
slides down the globe of her fist

to the parched and naked earth.
Nature is desperate with the weight
of so many men. And the girl

wakes the woman. She remembers
the sound of ripe fruit pruned by the evening,
the sound of the mountain receiving them.


Sophia Galifianakis teaches at the University of Michigan, where she received her MFA in poetry. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming several journals, including Plume Poetry, The Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Spillway, and Mezzo Cammin. She has also received scholarships from the West Chester Poetry Conference, Poetry by the Sea, and the Vermont Studio Center.

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