Cecily Parks

  • DATURA PARABLE 

  •  
  • When evening came at the end of a day
  • that I’d consumed by saying brutal things 
  • to the people I’m supposed to love most, 
  • I fled our home into a night whose heat
  • so closely approximated my own
  • that it was as if my body had no 
  • end: I was the dark that lay under all 
  • the live oaks and coalesced at each spine 
  • of the neighborhood cactuses I’d learned 
  • to call prickly pear. If my sweat 
  • poured down the hill to fill the dry creekbed,
  • I couldn’t see it by the light of the six
  • mercury vapor lamps that pretended,
  • from a tower, to be the city’s moon. 
  • Only when a flower spilled its cool white light
  • onto the hot road that had become 
  • part of my feet did I finally stop
  • running. Because I wanted the flower. 
  • I wanted it in my garden so that
  • each night I would have an object to hold
  • my gaze while I counted my cruelties
  • and my daughters slept and my husband washed
  • our wood floors of the crumbs and grease that brought
  • roaches indoors. Should I have known that love
  • would make me mean to the people I loved?
  • I should have known that every gorgeous part
  • of the night-blooming beauty plant I craved 
  • was poison. I learned later to call it
  • jimson weed, datura, or thorn apple.
  • But alone that night I believed I might 
  • be buried alive with that plant and still love
  • how it broke the darkness to answer
  • if not absolve my viciousness with light—
  • the way, I told myself, the owl believes 
  • the moon streaks the night mice silver 
  • for her. I was a new wife and a new mother.
  • I was in the dirt that grew the flower.

CECILY PARKS is the author of the poetry collections Field Folly Snow (University of Georgia) and O'Nights (Alice James Books), and editor of The Echoing Green: Poems of Fields, Meadows, and Grasses (Everyman's Library). She teaches at Texas State University.


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