I, the ancient hum roiling the caldron,
you, the humming chef ladling the soup,
broth of dirt clod & moon spit, stew
of soft bones waiting for names.
You dip, draw up a gazelle
squirming in its sac
& a halfborn iguana stargazing
from the crack along its egg.
You stir & up bobs a turtle,
tiny isle paddling through
thyme & garlic, scuttling
over the iron rim onto dry land.
You scatter salt, & blackbirds burst
from a flotilla of scallions,
peppering the air with a shake
of their dill-flecked wings.
See me, beloveds: Here I am
in the days when earth & sky were
soup & bread, & I, Wisdom, spread
the clouds with alfalfa honey & sage butter.
Here I am no cackling hag pestling
poisons, & here is god little more than
a bright-eyed chef boiling black-eyed peas,
chanting my names over ripe bones.
In the backyard, a garden.
I tend your roots & herbs,
weed & sing to the hemlock
I confuse with carrot leaves.
Around the house, a fence.
For jackals, wolves, & foxes,
you said—to ward off
In the house, a kitchen & library
of your old cookbooks. I scour
the recipes, yellow leaves sour
with grease & ale, the notes
of your sous chefs crowding
the margins. I stoke the stone
hearth, stir the iron pot,
& sing to the larder ghost.
I learn to mince & pare
words, to conjure you
from sound & copper.
I cast Urim & Thummim
& illuminate your answers
in floral inks on calfskin pages.
I crush berries & mix wine.
I slice open a goat & divine
its entrails, drain its juices
in bronze kettles, loop its coils
in a silver pan.
I reek of holiness, stink of you.
I am the burnt liver on your breath,
the iron haze of stewed blood
pulling past the hearth.
Around the fence, the folk gather.
I smile at their glowing eyes & slack
jaws. They bark for my food, howl
for my wisdom, pant for my wines.
From the house, I hear cracked
wood, busted locks, & trampled
grass. I smell hot oil & singed beer.
In the yard, mouths watering wide,
forks raised for your feast. Fire licks
your house, eats the hickory walls,
smokes my meat to a sweet savor.
A Knife to the Night’s Throat
from the witch of Endor to King Saul
You knock in the howl of night,
bid me drag up a dead prophet?
Now that your jaw shakes
& your stomach is soft wax,
you shake me down for a séance
to consult a ghost on the future
of your wars because your god
won’t answer you in dreams,
Urim, or living prophets. So you
camouflage your royal body
in plain clothes, skulk to the outskirts,
where people like me still walk
on air, slip through cracks
into nether-towns, & hold
the shells of the dead to our ears,
where skulls receive their spirits,
share lentil cakes & beer,
& expose the fraud of time.
You ask the witch you muzzled
to call up an authorized prophet
of the god you said hates witches
& spiritists. You ask me to ask
a dead man to ask a silent god.
You hold a knife to the night’s throat
to elicit the voice you gag by day,
still hot & bothered for the guise
of a sanctioned mouth,
as if the dead forget the wiles
of kings, as if their bones
won’t know it was the voice
of a woman, throat of the moon,
that drew up a god from soil.
Rebekah M. Devine (she/her) is a white, queer (aspec) writer residing in Reno, Nevada. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in P-Queue, Rust and Moth, Rejection Letters, and FERAL, among others. She holds an MLitt in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, and an MA in Biblical Exegesis. She is an MFA student in Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women.