“Pica: How the Leaves Turn Gold” by Hadara Bar-Nadav

Hadara Bar-Nadav


Resist the metaphor
of a pregnant woman
pawing the ground,
a dog who has buried a bone.

She is ripping up grass
digging for the rich black dirt
that lies deep underground.
Believe it: an iron deficiency
can make you turn your face
to the earth with hunger.

Márquez wrote of a 14-year-old girl
spooning dirt into her mouth
with hungry hands.

Her family tries to stop her,
locks her inside, ties her down,
but she sneaks into flowerbeds,
hides behind trees
and snatches at the earth
for desperate mouthfuls.

The tree watching over her
is confused, then delighted.
The tree watching over her thinks,
“At last someone loves
the way I do.”

The tree swings out
over the girl.
Its roots contract with pleasure
as she sucks the roots.
Shielding her in its many arms
its leaves turn bright gold.

from Rattle #19, Summer 2003

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