Maggie Lily
Per The Violet Letters Page 3.jpg

Goose and Clay

Per The Violet Letters Page 3.jpg

A dialogue between a nomadic mother who left her family years ago, and the daughter, now an adult, who continues to write her everyday. 

(Contains adult language)


Goose and Clay


It ain’t so tough

a mongoose I mean.

Sure, it can kill a rabbit twice his size

but any old man can kill

a rabbit.

Why just this morning

I’ve killed two.

Skinned them into tongue-tied ribbons

their bodies dried jerky


Their fur a new set of mittens

water-slickin. I’ll miss touching old oak bark

and lining their wrinkles with my own.

I ain’t lonely.

Only sore.

There’s no time to find a witness

for my teeth and boot

prints in the stubborn-packed snow.

I am flammable like dried pine needles.

I’m the first one to go.

And I will go, but avoid

the Hawthorn gatherings.

I will not sleep there and give the will-o-wisps

a chance to know my dreams.

Then again,

even they don’t seem like mine

no more.


Dear Mama,

The first crocus poked through today. It was disturbing. More so for its violet screaming than anything else. I’m sure its roots go on down to that hot iron core. Tickling the devil’s nose. A molten trumpet. A harbinger of spring. A damn reminder you still ain’t home.


I woke up this morning

and felt like the rain.

Assaulting and absorbing

into all around me.

All my joints a steaming

swamp daybreak, throbbing

and stinking like new peat.

I could preserve everything.

There’s a bullfrog in my throat

calling for a fuck.

I shut him up.

I haven’t known touch in years.

My spine howling, thunder-clapping.

I repeat my mantra:

“I ain’t too old for this shit.”


Dear Mama,

There’s a difference between being led home and being led to the truth.


I won’t be taken off course.

I won’t know violet.

I won’t know the sea.

I won’t let my ears be bitten.

I ain’t an infection,

I’m just a migrant opposing the turn of the world.

I’ll go due east.

Don’t call me a hound dog

cause I ain’t never known

no master

but I can always sniff out blood.

If daylilies marked my path

maybe I’d let myself be hopeful

and not this lowering fog

collectively heavy

and bleak.


Dear Mama,

If a jawbone can pulse, yours pulses, when you’re angry or stressed or just an upset way. I’d watch it only. Back and forth. Forth then back. And I’d want to knock down every table and crush every chair between us, so I could press my warm cheek to yours and lie to you: “It’s going to be okay.” But I was too small and too late. And you were already halfway out the door. Consumed by the day’s light.


There’s something on the wind singing,

“I’ve got soft skin

are you gonna let me in?”

And it follows me

like a pup or

a hereditary disease

no matter how far I go.

And I will go.

And I won’t go.

And I won’t go home.


Dear Mama,

Where do the monarchs go in winter besides Mexico? Where do they actually go? Are the Oyamel forests their home or our violet meadows? Do the milkweed know when they’re gone or when they stay? I ain’t mad. I won’t ever say lonely. I just didn’t know you were a goose and I didn’t know I was riverbed clay.