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Amber Flora Thomas


Down in the holy

and maiden where

the singing is,

where you drink

and cup the rain

and cling to an

everglade mound.


The narrow throng

where amethyst deepens

into black, a place

waiting in the animal night

to be scooped up

or left alone—


the frill labellum. The shroud

where the shoot births

unfurling tongues

that couldn’t hide their waves

when I brought you

to the nursery.


All around you a light

that put the pearl in there

and kneaded it like a pit

some girl could spit

into her palm.



If the beetle’s black slips into iridescence

If the splinter and raft merge

If summer waste turns to awe

If against the weathered wood you write her name

If dappling etches through

If heather rusts in the drinking trough

If you look back

If she looks back

and the wing begins as a shell

and the rope spells between the rocks

If you drop the seed in and an oak climbs out

who then gathers

when you turn your singing away?

when you ball your socks in your boots

and wade out to the gods (minnows, all)

what about your hours then?

when you’ve waited for the shell

to shake loose your wings?



To dive into breath

trapped by rolling green

air. To force my limbs open

and ring my tongue


in there, ready for praise

and the accolades of time

to free myself.


To unglue my spine

from shallows and tear myself

further down into silence,


so I can rise

from the deepest pool

among no others.


I towel off,

bent into pouring gaze

and stippled chill.


It is morning

and I’ve stopped

along Navarro River.


The past entered

here again,

so I dive.

-from Red Channel in the Rupture (Red Hen Press 2018), selected by Fall 2022 Guest Editor, Michael Walsh 

Born and raised in northern California, poet Amber Flora Thomas earned a BA at Humboldt State University and an MFA at Washington University in St. Louis. Her lyric poems often engage the body as a record of loss and accrual. She is the author of Red Channel in the Rupture (2018), The Rabbits Could Sing (2012), and The Eye of Water (2005), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (2009), and Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (2006).


Victoria Chang


Victoria Chang

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