Centuries before it will become
the symbol of a triumphant queen
and her evangelical fervor
the fruit stains a woman’s fingers.
Her lips. Her cheek.
A ruby red spot on the stone floor
of the courtyard. She separates
the seeds. Sweet like
honeycomb. Tart with juices.
She offers them, an act
of love, to her husband. He
has returned from prayer.
They plant a prophecy that
bursts between the teeth.


The Parable of the Woods

They say never

use the stairwells

in parking garages.


Red hoodie or no,

never run on the

wooded trails alone.


Keep your keys

in your hand

as a weapon.


For creatures and criminals

lurk in the mulberry bushes.

Carry the mace Thisbe forgot.


Draw a map —

X marks the spot —

to your body.


For flirting with men

sometimes means

flirting with danger,


they say, especially

in the woods,

where so quickly


the erotic

can become violent.


Little deaths,
big ones.


Saint Sebastian

There is a blister
on the side of his foot
where his sandal has rubbed.
running the Roman Road.
These muscle twinges
will be nothing
compared to the arrows.
The clubs.
The chemo
that has compelled them
to invoke the saints.