“Bryophyllum daigremontianum, commonly called devil’s backbone, mother-of-millions, mother-of-thousands, alligator plant, or Mexican hat plant is a succulent plant native to Madagascar.”
Underneath the fields is where our stories are buried. The monocrops were decisions made about our past, so I ask you to take the batteries out of the clanging wall clock before I go to sleep to prevent the supremacist art of domestication from permeating my dreams.
Inside of my raised fist is a struggling livelihood: there is sugar cane, corn, and certainly cotton. I’ve come here to climb the spiral rope back to the knowledge of the land, holding a scythe branded with the name i gave myself & my hands ache so much from having to dig you out,
I stop at every county cemetery no matter who is resting there. I am a gatherer of thousands,
how you said we don’t have to buy seeds driving past a town named Coon Valley as I inwardly flinch about a strange joke E. used to make about not seeing a relative “in a coon’s age,”
and the day i realized what she meant by that when she said it, how my fist in the will of my
stomach began to wilt, all their freshly mowed lawns burning with the crosses of their wickedness. a mother ushering her children to safety a story carried on by the next generation of plantlets,
since water has been proven to secure history, when public wailing feels like you’re a conduit for someone else. Caring for an unmarked grave on her lunch hour, autocratic fields you can see from an airline window seat. We touch our callused feet together. Underneath this land is a
succulent downpour we are building from the lives calling to be excavated. The fists of black & brown women throughout the ages in a controlled heirloom heat. Seeds taking flight from the ancient fields of our wildflower palms for we are the mothers of thousands
Originally published in The Feminist Wire.
Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, POETRY, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof 2017) as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (2019) from Bloof Books. She is also the author of an artist book called Operation USA through the Baltimore based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Her third collection, Waterbaby, is out from Copper Canyon Press. She was a Visiting Associate Professor of Poetry at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop from Spring 2021/ to Spring 2022.