Diamond Forde

Poem in Which I Was Supposed to Write about Cain and Abel, But I’m Tired of Writing about Death

So instead, a houseplant
arching a trellis of its own strong stems,
elephant ear, Colocasia, what my aunt called
Alice, ready for the inevitable mothering
of her own mother, she tended Alice
with the surgical precision of a woman
seaming silver to the sharp ends of the moon,
and even when she yelled at my cousins
for crawling through the jungle-mess
of its large leaves, scattering soil so far
she could find the hard balls of Perlite
trailing, trailing, sometimes she’d let me
water or cull the gold and ghostly curls
of a dying sprout, hung like a wrung-out
washcloth, and in my hands
I like to think she saw a potential to dig,
to muck deep into the manure 
of my imagination, sprout offshoots 
I hope to plant in someone else someday
when I am no longer afraid
to think of myself as a god large
enough that every heart-shaped leaf
dicing light to dust could beat in my own chest,
and I have never made a life 
but I’ve reached into the refuse
they make of our stories and found hearts
hardy as crocus bulbs, and in this poem
I am planting a world for gxrls to live
where kudzu climbs, and is welcomed.


What I Wish I Said When My Stepmother Asked Me If I Planned to Go to My Grandmother’s Funeral

You tell me I’m selfish—it’s true. I’m particular, too—toast my bread on one side, pluck my toenails in my plush-down bed, sneeze and shout so loud our small hound slumbers with an eye transfixed

on the pollen pilling the sill 

and martyrdom, that supposed mechanism of motherhood, won’t tick in me, but there’s a fig tree feathering behind the old brick building at work, and each fall it droops with newborn fruit, green bulbs purpling like bruises, flush with fresh meat, seeds pink as flagging tongues, and there’s a cove cratered beneath the broad leaves, large enough to sit in, to reach for every wine-dark drop, eat, cream its custard against my teeth, and isn’t it divine to hide behind fig leaves? 

or that for each fruit to bloom, a mother dies—a wasp slipping into the fig’s snug end, wings clipped in entry, antennae ripped from their stalks—blinded by a need to breed, which is not a metaphor, just an insect giving body for brood, because love is a force greater than grief 

and we weren’t meant to mother 

but I know love, found it in the joyful tunes of my own breath, in my hands clapping verbs to thunder, in my thigh’s singular notes, and maybe if you’d listen, you’d hear it as my grandmother heard it, 

in her last pulse, that thrum not swan song but a mulch-womb buzzing to fruit.


Diamond Forde’s debut collection, Mother Body, is the winner of the 2019 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. A Callaloo and Tin House fellow, Diamond’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Honey Literary, Obsidian, Massachusetts Review, and more. She serves as the Fiction Editor of Nat. Brut, and she lives in Asheville with her partner and their dog, Oatmeal. diamondforde.com.