Melissa Helton 



The hoe handle jabs the crumbly dirt,
small half-globe negatives, 
receptive rain cups waiting in a row.

I hand two knotted dried peas to Violet. 

They look like little skulls, she says 
and drops them into their anti-graves, 
their pits of resurrection. 

Pearl buries them. Good night 
little peas she says and tucks them in,
like every parent who has stood 
over a sleeping child 
and marveled at how quickly 
tomorrow comes each day. 

The girls run away to celebrate 
the beginning of garden season, 
yellow hair and giggling 
filling the wind behind them, 
and sweeping across the bare field. 

Evening drives us in and as we sleep, 
the fire keeping late spring chill at bay, 
a rain soaks and it all begins, 

the eternal drive to grow, change, accumulate, 
progress, secure a legacy. 

There in my square of dirt is the engine of the universe, 
the gravity of all creation,
while not a soul is watching,
little peas springing to life in the dark.


The Women’s Gown

Creased linen hangs on me, 
generations old, under which
grandmother and mother swelled
and split and shrank with lineage,
fabric faded as fieldstones holding
me in the body.

Flames crown my head,
lick at the air, a dance
of oxygen and plasma, 
I dream of evaporating, 
particles spreading, disconnecting
and saying good-bye 
to each other, yielding
to air currents and whatever
may come next.

But the linen keeps my molecules
bonded, a shell in which
I incubate and spin, a holy
robe that keeps me 
from the sin of pride.


Melissa Helton is a poet and novice songwriter who lives with her family on a subsistence farm in Warbranch, Ky. She is assistant professor of English at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and has photography and poetry forthcoming in The Notebook and Motif v.4 anthology.


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