Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Christina Stoddard is the author of Hive, which won the 2015 Brittingham Prize in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin Press. Her poems have appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, storySouth, Tupelo Quarterly, and Spoon River Poetry Review, among others. She lives in Nashville, where she is the managing editor of an economics journal.


Seed pods gossip with the grass. I bleed their milk
and my hands turn black. I used to know the name

for why that happens. From a safe distance the pear trees
call me a fool. It is true that I’ve forgotten the name

of the first boy I kissed. I forget his lips and hair—
my heart a canvas painted over. Now I seek the name

of the star our bodies broke from, the one closest
to the throne of God. When the prophets speak its name,

the mountain will cleave in two. Only the hanged man
has ever loved me that much. We lie together and name

the nocturnal birds by their cries. I was told the greatest sin
is skin on skin, the greatest sin is hands. One name

for it is worship. But sometimes a hand is a butcher knife,
a hand is a hacksaw, a hand is teeth. Christ, it’s all in the name.