national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Miriam’s Song

Bailey Spencer  • 
Boston College

Named bitter, I reach for sycamore,

thirst for fig sugar and honey wine,

 

salve for mortar-coated lips. Always

my hand is pushed away, tied to the loom

 

by chains of desert-wind-whipped hair.

At the river I gather reeds: blood beetle,

 

I bow to Nile spittle and choke on copper

dust gone blue. Prophecy, I think, when

 

I prick my finger. Squeeze: coax

beads of red to harden like pharaoh’s

 

jewels and whisper to a basket drawn

downstream. It is the year the threads are

 

stained and I feed dates to the rapids, hope

my brother stays sweet.