October Foot Washing by Linda Parsons

One foot on stone, the other on clover—
earthing, it’s called—into the basin of yard, 
bare hearted and footed. The cool  

shocks my bones. If I root my fallen arches here 
in the garden, it will be as I dreamed 
this morning: my grandmother sitting 

on the floor. How will I ever get her up? 
a woman plumped on fatback and fried pies. 
But she is the sacral ground saying to take it 

all in—the bee-heavy cones of buddleia, 
monarchs’ last fling before the Sierra Madres, 
things I’ve lost to careless love—

saying to release the body’s springs to their subterranean 
source, back before my sullen distance, the red, 
red rose of grief pinned to my sleeve. 

Back when I thought if I ever bowed far enough 
in supplication, I’d never get up. 
Fall unleaves its script, inking my heels 

in the art of dying; the year spins down 
to ash and ice. Early dew washes my feet. 
The underworld rushes below, the wild cherry

cauls the fence, Jerusalem daisies reach above.
For what is the earth but a tangled bouquet
lit to its core, what am I but a conduit 

of ions, the stories that no longer serve me 
sent back and back, to the karst, the anthill, 
the prints left overnight vanished to shadow. 

Poet, playwright, editor, and essayist, Linda Parsons is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Widely published, her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019). Five of her plays have been produced by Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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