Back to Issue Thirty

Ex-Votos for Alcoholism

BY GABRIELLA R. TALLMADGE

A long way through sallow hills to Fresno.
Burnt grass reminding me of piss,

then, naturally, jaundice.
Farmland hollowing but is memory

of water. I try not to look
at the carcasses.

But was that owl still dying?
It looked just struck and,

wings flailing, freshly
registering the damage. Or not.

Not an animal showing me
its leaving. A cream wing caught up

by the rush of passing trucks,
life having already evacuated.

Wing in lift because the air,
its hollowness, it must. Can’t

remember now where I was
before the owl—the passenger

in my head never looking in
my same direction.

Left are the ledger of miles
after this.

When I Was Astarte

BY GABRIELLA R. TALLMADGE

Holding this bowl beneath my breasts,

the fifteenth of lunar July grows fat

with moony desire. My milk is a miracle. I am sovereign. I wander

and take up with still-born stars. With this head of a bull

as my own, I underpin every galley post, every ibex,

the dusk in the sky, the under-life. The gates to hell

sing to appease me. They meant my name

to mean shame but rams grow wombs in my sight,

their fluted horns discarded. And way back,

at the first light, there was an egg on my knee.

From this egg broke twins. They swam past the cloudlets

and seeded this world. One never returned.

And so the living will wilt like petals.

All will scald between my lips, my vessel of annihilation.

But I will regrow those who die in battle, breech

birth, slaughter chutes. This is to become again, climb

back up my branches, taste

the sulfur of matches, reach out and graze

my freckles, field of capsized planets.

Gabriella R. Tallmadge is a Latinx writer and educator from San Diego, California. Her poetry has received awards from the Hedgebrook Writer in Residence Program, the Community of Writers Workshop, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Gabriella’s poems have previously appeared in The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Mid-American Review, and Best New Poets. More of her work can be found online at www.grtallmadge.com.

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