The Foot of Montségur
A rumor said we crept in
and dug like animals
a hollow for the grail.
The friars weren’t listening
at Albi or Verfeuil.
We buried nothing.
I think of the spaces
where we existed.
Landscape is a corner of my eye:
papery like dry ashen leaves.
The crusaders brought a map
with blue cut into
the outline of our Languedoc.
I touched the lightweight edge,
the places where our caves would be;
we worshipped in the walls.
I loved to steady the child’s head
with a light touch on the ear,
her patient stare while I combed
the long hair back, breathed the cold
cutting air, and buried the afterbirths.
I knew there was no mistake
about the body and routine.
God did not send us out, but back.
The most physical of all, I rocked
as in a body, what I felt
a boat must be.
I see rocks, transparent,
how grainy water is,
and finally I watch the iron
density of flame.
All night, sun sets on the town.
Easily they fit us in the circle.
We are the last of us.
Previously published in Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016).
Jessica Cuello is the author of Hunt, a feminist response to Moby Dick and winner of The 2016 Washington Prize from The Word Works. Her other collections include Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016) and the chapbooks My Father’s Bargain (2015), By Fire (2013), and Curie (2011). She was the winner of The 2013 New Letters Poetry Prize, a winner of LUMINA’s poetry contest (selected by Carolyn Forché), the recipient of a 2015 Saltonstall Writing Fellowship and the recipient of the 2014 Decker Award from Hollins University for outstanding teaching. https://jessicacuello.wordpress.com/