The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lineage by Emily Holland

Beta vulgaris

Your hands covered
in beet juice, I can see it
you were: fever splotches
on the counter, door knob, knife
handle; all those
chopped pieces bleeding
in the bowl.
White, like the sugar beet,
you said, tracing roots
down my forearms. The heat
something awful,
summer like a bruise,
sweat sweet enough to crave.
Tattooed a beetroot
on your arm—it extends
the length of your triceps,
fluffy crown set in black
and white, round bulb
rooted above the hinge
of your elbow—just visible
under your summer shirts.
Proof that not all red
things are blood: love
not the only thing
buried before you hold it.
The oysters were shucked,
lined up on a platter of ice,
her hands still salty
with brine when she tipped
one into your mouth.
It went down so easily,
the way warm water oysters always do,
sweet melon trail on your tongue.
And next—artichokes: she peeled
the thorns away, steam
floating around her fingers
as if she were a heat source,
skipped the inner leaves,
scraped away fibrous choke
and went right for the heart.

This selection comes from the book, Lineage, available from Dancing Girl Press & Studio.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano .

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 PoetryTupelo 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.


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