Judith Montgomery

What Were You, Before
by Judith Montgomery

you slipped into your flesh suit,
its rosy padding, and zipped it up,

little latch throbbing in your throat?
A slide of light, sip of mother blood-

breath? Until you loosed the pulsing
cord to swim into this next world—

passage to desire. Incarnate, yielding
to succulence and savor—crush

of almond marzipan upon the tongue,
ooze of cool mud between toes

in August’s sweat-dogged days,
even blood’s salt sting licked from

the paper cut—all addictive. Once
elected, there’s no turning back from

the body’s habit, which is to say,
habitation, package wrapping that

first sip or slide, earth-lured and fiercely
clinging to vessel, to bone and flesh—

bloomed, wounded—harried, healed—
willing neither to perish, nor to pine for

the bland and dimming memory of Paradise.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 1.

Judith MontgomeryJudith Montgomery’s poems appear in Prairie Schooner, Cave Wall, and Rattle, among other journals, as well as in several anthologies. Her chapbook, Passion, received the 2000 Oregon Book Award for Poetry; Red Jess (Cherry Grove Collections, 2006) and Pulse & Constellation (Finishing Line Press, 2007) followed. Her second full-length collection, Litany for Wound and Bloom, will appear in 2018 from Uttered Chaos Press.

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