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The Curses

December 30, 2009

by Monica Raymond

The curses were
pleated, language folded like dense
integuments of muscle, like the heart
tougher

to bite through than
any organ. “I like it because
it is bitter,” like a miner, turnip
pressed down

flesh insisting
lively through silt, no one would take that
shape, dwarf’s bulb bullet, unless resisting
being

nothing, growing
downward what’s possible, travel through
filth, earth, call it what you will, had your fill
knowing

dull gravity,
brown and ochre, cursing the mother
for always having to carve into her
to be.

Above ground,
easy leaves find themselves differently,
all furl and crinkle, like fans, flirtation’s
light sound—

banter, repair.
These dare health, but the accordion
expansion of the root, the curses, what do
they dare?

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Monica Raymond won the Castillo Prize in political theater for her play The Owl Girl, which is about two families in an unnamed Middle Eastern country who both have keys to the same house. She was a Jerome Fellow for 2008-09 at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, among many other honors and awards. Her poetry has been published in the Colorado Review, the Iowa Review, and the Village Voice, and her work has been selected for publication by every pair of qarrtsiluni editors for ten issues in a row now (counting the upcoming Health issue).

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  1. January 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Rich visuals here. The “accordion / expansion of the root” – I like the scariness and heavy reach of it, and the unexpected contrast to “furl and crinkle” aboveground (since my associations would normally be the other way around – openness aboveground, close/confined matter below).

  2. Monica Raymond
    January 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Peg!

    Air doesn’t press in on things the way earth does, so it allows lots of possibilities for ripples and interstices–think crinkly spinach.

    That corkscrew carrot was most likely starved of water or blocked by rock. But when you’re growing in earth, it’s generally so hard to press in or out that most just grow straight down, making them unexpectedly big and straightforward.

    Thanks to you I found out about Dead Mule and its “Southern Legitimacy Statement.”

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