Tangled Women by Sarah Dunster

grapevine tendril by _sjg_

Mother always dreamed of our perfection,
daughters who escaped her careless jumble
with cool minds and clear heads. A strong woman

was (she first thought) in lines of a chi garden
with stones laid straight and raking gravel €”
tines in furrows, dug for our perfection.

Then battling with star thistles and watermelons
sprung up from seeds of wars in a tough tumble
of coiling vine, she became the sort of woman

who taught her daughters the raw mysticism
of broken earth while the sting of new soil
stirred us. She demonstrated the perfection

of bulbs thrown, of planting in a pattern
of scatter. With closed eyes, she tossed her handful
in hope that we would all grow to be women

of choice. What renaissance–the perfection
of rebellion in us tangled women.


For more by Sarah, go here and here.


While Digging Out the Garden by Sarah Dunster

You, but not you.

The earth braces itself against
my first spade full €”ground softened by
my salt €”unearthing roots   like fingers
spread to sky, claiming a blessing
or, at least, an answer.

You are earth. You. But not
you €”we never buried you, and
I never saw your face in death.

I’m alive, yet not alive.

I walk through shadowed valleys and
I find the Tree €”not fruited, but felled;
a blackened trunk, with spring sprung up
in a hundred nubile branches €”

Me. And you.

The garden must be dug. My young
plants wait on the sill, stretching leggy
stems to reach the light. I turn the
earth. What lies beneath? My spade-tip
scrapes the iron mantle, while I
hang on the wooden handle.


To read Sarah’s bio and other Spring Poetry Runoff entries, go here and here.

*Competition entry*

Invasion by Sarah Dunster

I watch April for the breath of life;
stirring roots threading secret ways
through soil. The thrill, when I wake and find
dug garden beds dusted in wild Irish green.
Her crop is more diverse, resilient, more
matched to this soil and these waters
than any I will bring. I turn the earth,
interring new life back into its birth
and fold the dirt around my cup-fed roots
like a swaddling blanket. I coax my seedlings
as they stretch languid limbs for me to
prop and shield from deserving predators.
But She will resurrect, and the natives have
always been tough to kill €”wave after
brave green wave claims their land back.
They raise their furious heads and set
their necks against me. I turn the earth again
and again. With May I fall to my knees and
execute them one by one, in favor of my
still-ungrateful progeny, now jailed in cages,
and I hope for harvest worthy of my effort and
the death of a thousand aborigines.

Sarah Dunster is a loyal contributor to WIZ. For a recent bio and her other entry in Spring Runoff, go here.

*Competition entry*

Sestina by Sarah Dunster

How long, I wonder, will I wait
for broods to gather round my legs.
And I’ll have feed. Every dry mouth
will fill, for ripening cheeks. I glean
from spare fields, following, with two
shallow baskets. My hands are old.

At ten I fancied to be old
enough to take my own train, wait
by myself on benches. With two
more years to run on young spring legs
I fished like mad and scrapped to glean
sweet, white flakes for my greedy mouth.

When I first shut my parching mouth
against the dust that made me old
I watched a grey crow scratch and glean
for moldy bread. I thought to wait
to see if it would beak my legs
and try to find a crumb or two.

Then ants came marching two by two
across my prickling, salty mouth.
I swallowed, tried to bend my legs
and run to catch up with the old
-est, brownest boy. He couldn’t wait
for me to bend my back and glean.

When Marchest days brought winds that gleaned
a tree branch of its pear or two,
I thought to ask my love to wait
while I found seeds and crammed my mouth
and prayed for fruit before I’m old
enough to trip on tottering legs.

The grass still cut my blue-skinned legs
before I knelt with shears to glean
as stars crept out. The moon was old
and almost full. I wished for two
more pomegranates. Watch this mouth
shake, catching flakes. And still I wait.

The wheat grows old as I try two
crumbs and cross my legs. The crows glean
for worms. I press my mouth and wait.

Sarah Dunster is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her poems have been published in Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah Magazine, and Victorian Violet Press. Her short fiction piece, Back North, is featured in Segullah’s Fall 2011 issue. Her novel Lightning Tree will be released this week by Cedar Fort. Sarah has six children and one on the way and loves writing almost as much as she loves being a mom. Link here to other Sarah’s other contributions to WIZ, including an excerpt of her novel.

*Competition entry*