DEAD GIRL AS MISS SWEET POTATO PIE
Cait Weiss Orcutt
Garnet yam’s a misnomer—its inside’s
more burnt orange than claret, more dimmed
pumpkin than red. What did the boys carve
into the flesh of the aloe vera? Initials
of the women they wanted to… Dead Girl
walks through the arid desert section of the public
access park, McGovern Centennial, past the erotics
of a phallic ziggurat, two men racing
up the revolutions in contest. Apples fell
before the Trojan War as easily as they did mid-
Eden. Texas is peach, pecan, citrus country, rattlesnakes
and loquat groves. Moving to the nursey
of pomegranates, persimmons, Dead Girl spots
squash flowers at the foot of lime trees,
the gauzy petals unfurling as hard desiccated dark
green orbs test their branches up above.
Symbiosis sidles so close to the parasitic,
the paradisaical just a shimmer
from pathology. Why do straight women love
the same devils that want them
dead? Last week, she stood on a raised bed
the same as any springling shoot
while an older, blonder woman crowned her
Queen of the Tuber Dessert. Dead Girl never
wore her crown again after that. Every tendril
of vine is a ladder for invaders to climb.
In the ancient world, but not so ancient, Helen
was plucked out of her story and dropped
into captivity for a white man’s epic poem.
What for? Beauty—
the whole pregnant threat of it.
As if men need a horse.
As if men need to hide.
CAIT WEISS ORCUTT’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, and more. Her poems were nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and Best New Poets 2016, and her manuscript VALLEYSPEAK (Zone 3, 2017) won Zone 3 Press’ First Book Award and an IPPY Award for Poetry. Cait teaches creative writing at the University of Houston, the Salvation Army, the Menil Collection, and the Jewish Community Center, and narrative medicine for Harris Country healthcare professionals. She will be relocating to Columbus, Ohio this Fall and is the recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship.