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i sit with miss jean to learn witchcraft at a catholic nursing home

a golden shovel from “my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell” by Gwendolyn Brooks

miss jean is old enough for every light to pass straight through, and i

am young enough for my bones and the lengths of my hair to hold

a wilding of shadows. she tells me about her sorceries and grips my

hand with enormous strength while her tongue and eyes pour honey

down the lines of her face and all the angels dance reels in the air and

i scratch my own blood along the page to sew her words into a book i

want to write because it will one day save my life, or at least the store

of days i have left, sweet bite of time to be here in this world with my

heart running and my feet slogging along the road and the bread

in the kitchen going white and wet with mold, another dollar right in

the fire, but what can you do. i ask miss jean, who laughs just a little

at the angels who are all sitting on my shoulders and inside the jars

of my lungs. dear miss jean. in the beginning there was a car and

a county road, voices from on high that reached inside the cabinets

of her secret soul to unspool into the raw tennessee sky a howl of

faith so wretched and cathartic that i hear it, even now i hear it: my

ears ring with things that won’t come to pass and things that will.


Maria Zoccola is a queer Southern writer with deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. She has writing degrees from Emory University and Falmouth University. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, The Massachusetts Review, Colorado Review, Spillway, Southern Indiana Review, Fence, Lake Effect, The Baltimore Review, and elsewhere.


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