Fox Bellies

Mama ties the tied-together catgut from the gutter
to the oak, pins her floral skirts to the catgut
to dry in the yellow-bellied forenoon, and prays
beside the billows in the grass to her God:

God of crayon and cradle,
God of stain and stable,
God of phantom and fable,
Save me from O, save me from O,
I cannot remember from what or
Who, O God,
the winds cause me and they cause me
to forget, but they tell me there is something
terrible to be saved from.

Her prayer being sent, a great bellow-whisper
of wind outs her skirts to the outskirts of the yard,
where the foxes skirt, wielding eyes of Biblical glass.

Seeing their bellies, she remembers.
Seeing her remember, they jeer,
Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes that ruin
the vineyards, our vineyards
that are in bloom.

With their terrible teeth they rip
the finespun florals of her skirts
to ribbons in the finespun forenoon.

Though Mama has swaddled herself in pigeon-
netting to ward off these circling spirits,
though she has grain by grain built herself a pillar
of salt to look back at and feel her own safety,
though she has burnt her specter’s lipstick
in the high-noon in a pit in the vector’s center,
Mama’s God does not grant her respite from
her trembling, for from her trembling comes prayer:

God of stork and spindle,
God of fine-tined fork and time-lined teet,
O God of brine and barrow,
O God of spine and sparrow,
forgive me for forgetting the face
of You, O God of sod and sorrow,
forgive me for my phantom-leap
into the torn-up vineyards beyond
the plot you have given me.
The foxes come closer with each
forenoon. Let them loose upon me,
O God, if I deserve to be let loose upon.

About the Author

John Bosworth is a senior at the University of Texas in Austin. He is the recipient of the 2018 Most Promising Young Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets, the 2018 Roy Crane Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, and a two-time winner of the James F. Parker writing contests. He works as a poetry intern at Bat City Review.