Audio: Read by the author.
My mother used to tell me to talk without using my hands,
pressing my palms together in hers to shape a hollow
wherein my tongue would toll unheard.
People will think you’re something you’re not, she said.
(No one taught us, then, that the feminine could be holy.)
I scoop camellias from the drive, grown florid
to the point of vulgarity and dropped from their boughs.
Here is the church; here is the steeple.
When the veil parts, it’s with the bite of a scalpel.
My hands brim with color and open as if to a wound.
Joshua Garcia’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, The Shore, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the College of Charleston and will be a 2021–22 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University.