It wasn’t a dream. I gave birth to a one-eyed lion.
His placenta was a fig slick with honey, so I ate it.
I nursed him with grapes crushed between my breasts.
What can kill you is sacred, so my child was sacred,
blond and vengeful. His ribs said, Enter me and my shadow
said, Yes. He took the silver coins hidden in my mouth
and laid me in the tall grass. The stars said, Where am I?
My dress said, Rip. I saw no clouds, but I saw the wind,
who only wanted a daughter, and I had none to give.
There was the black tongue sliding deeper into the earth.
There was his one good eye—open, silvered, my initials
carved in the center. So little in me wanted to live.
The darkness said, You die whether you risk anything or not.
I emptied ashes from my pockets. I crawled to feel
the stones cut my knees, God’s foot on my throat.
The dream said, Follow me. The lion said, You’re here.
TRACI BRIMHALL is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), winner the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010), winner of the Crab Orchard Series First Book Award. She’s currently a doctoral candidate at Western Michigan University.