“Witness & Conversion: A Manual” – Maggie Woodward
let’s talk about the rifle. let’s talk

about the river inside it. reach out

& hold them both in your left hand.

fill a jam jar with birdblood

& drink til your bones sprout

wings. wrap your wrists in marrow,

in silk. run the riverbed, oh body

oh blood of Christ, poured

for you, oh eldest daughter,

girl who leaves a curl of dirt

in the wake of her feet.

eldest daughter, you are an omen

of treefall. you are a portent

of jackals. the firstborn feels love

like it’s her blood,

screaming. she’s been shot in the gut

by the moon. give her

the dark of the earth

in handfuls: bloodbone,

woodlark, glass filled with rancid

honey. she was born

blasphemy. she was born

a snakebite. sweet pine-

cone child, she brushed her hair

with bonemeal. sweet succubus,

she wants the burn of her limbs

to melt into bread,

into bullet. she was born

to have the Word of her name

spoken first. say it. say it.


Maggie Woodward is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Mississippi. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Sugared Water Magazine, Kenning Poetry Journal, Poemeleon, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @maggie_eliz.