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About this Poem 

“This poem is part of a series I’m working on that mythologizes the town in Brazil where my mother was born and raised. Mysterious and possibly miraculous things begin to occur there, and every resident has a different explanation. The speaker believes the reason for the miracles is a hamadryad nymph with a poem tattooed on her back who ran away rather than be worshipped.” 

—Traci Brimhall

Rapture: Lucus

Traci Brimhall

Posters for the missing kapok tree appear on streetlights
offering a reward for its safe return. I hate to spoil it,

but the end of every biography is death. The end of a city
in the rainforest is a legend and a lost expedition. The end

of mythology is forgetfulness, placing gifts in the hole
where the worshipped tree should be. But my memory

lengthens with each ending. I know where to find the lost
mines of Muribeca and how to cross the Pacific on a raft

made of balsa. I know the tree wasn’t stolen. She woke from
her stillness some equatorial summer evening by a dream

of being chased by an amorous faun, which was a memory,
which reminded her that in another form she had legs

and didn’t need the anxious worship of people who thought
her body was a message. She is happier than the poem tattooed

on her back says she is, but sadder than the finches nesting
in her hair believe her to be. I am more or less content to be

near her in October storms, though I can’t stop thinking that
with the right love or humility or present of silk barrettes

and licorice she might become a myth again in my arms, ardent
wordless, needing someone to bear her away from the flood.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Traci Brimhall. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 14, 2014. 

Copyright © 2014 by Traci Brimhall. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 14, 2014. 

Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W. W. Norton, 2012). She teaches at Kansas State University and lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

by this poet

poem
We crawl through the tall grass and idle light,

our chests against the earth so we can hear the river


underground. Our backs carry rotting wood and books

that hold no stories of damnation or miracles.


One day as we listen for water, we find a beekeeper—

one eye pearled by a cataract, the other cut out by
poem
The first time I saw my mother, she'd been dead 
fourteen years and came as a ghost in the mirror, 

plucking the hair beneath her arms, and humming 
a bossa nova. She lotioned her chapped heels 

and padded her bra as if she were alive in the old way. 
She said I was born with my cord wrapped 

around my neck
poem

Before she died, my mother told me
I’d make the monster that would kill me,
so I knew this was someone else’s death
creeping into my field, butchering my cow.
I recognized its lone eye and two mouths.
Perhaps it mistook the lowing for the call
of its own kind. I didn’t mind the heifer