You say the smell of pavement after it rains
is how dirt tastes down South and I ask
what dirt because the South I know doesn’t have dirt,
it has red clay. You say it was white dirt you ate
after you saw some of the older folks in town
eating white dirt and it was just something everyone did.
I don’t know about white dirt, but I know about clay
and I know clay doesn’t taste like anything
once you mold it into bowls and let it dry in the sun
so you can drink rainwater from the Twelve Mile Creek.
Clay ain’t white, you say, and I tell you I never ate clay
and you ask why and I say because no one else did.
Emily Holland is a lesbian poet pursuing her MFA at American University. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and two Pushcart Prizes. She has work appearing or forthcoming in publications including bedfellows, Screen Door Review, FOLIO, and Nat. Brut. Her poems explore themes of queerness, place, familial lineage, and investigate the Southern pastoral. She works at The Writer’s Center, where she is currently the managing editor for Poet Lore.
Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate.