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The Gertrude Munzenmaier Prize

Ed Gold
Charleston, SC

 

Touch Me Not

All day long,

you were my honey cups:

your fragrance weakened me;

my smooth meadow-beauty,

curling eight anthers toward me;

my little floating heart,

white bells on slender,

filiform stems.


All night,

you were my shadow witch,

pale orchid from the West Indies;

my blazing star,

delicious to moths;

my carolina moonseed,

named for the shape

of the stone in the shell.


So why this morning,

were you prickly ash,

numbing my lips;

southern sheep-kill

the goats avoid like poison;

why are you sour grass,

your male and female flowers

on their separate stalks?


How all afternoon

did I become

stinking fleabane;

bastard toadflax

(nothing but a parasite);

bitter gallberry,

my fruit oozing

such black ink?