Laura Sobbot Ross
DAUGHTER, AT EIGHTEEN
I’ve caught her in mid-air,
the girl in this picture. What’s left
of summer— loose gold
in an upsurge of hair,
a scalp-bounced, tree-ward, throng drawn
all the way from her soles
against the snap-back, shallow give
of backyard earth, stretched
spring to spring, then trampoline-ing
up and out. Her mouth, a tunnel—
mid-word gone dark, bliss at the corner
of her lips, just an upswing, an almost
exhale. One eye hidden in the reverb
of tangled bangs, the other caught
like the wing-arc of a coasting bird;
a caged gaze, a defiance, a dare.
Kinetic. No netting necessary.
They must fear us the way we fear snakes—
poisonous and skulking in the brush,
a creature so low to the ground we think
we could trample it before it strikes.
& aren’t humans a history
recorded somewhere in elephant lore,
etched in the scrolls of their trunks
where eons are counted inward like tree lines
to a primitive, guttural warning?
Drought and lions are lesser gods.
They’re not as cruel.
It’s one thing to be hungry
and another to kill for profit.
Now, imagine the shape of a curse,
its heft and purity.
Route it into a socket
in the skull. Give it roots
of living tissue. Make it valuable,
accessible to the desperate.
Let it be
scrimshaw-worthy and perfect
for piano keys, buttons,
and billiard balls,
the carved handles of cutlery.
Piece it in among sleeping families—
great herds in tumbled clusters.
Let its ribs score the dust
in moon-sliver and flare,
a fine horn already bloodied with light.
Laura Sobbott Ross has worked as a teacher and a writing coach for Lake County Schools and was recently named as Lake County’s first poet laureate. Her poetry appears in many journals, including Blackbird, Florida Review, and 32 Poems. She was a finalist for the Art & Letters Poetry Prize and won the Southern Humanities Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. Her poetry chapbooks are A Tiny Hunger and My Mississippi. A third book, The Graffiti of Pompeii, was released in December.