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Terhi K. Cherry
November 2022

Terhi K. Cherry’s work appears in SWWIM Every Day, TIMBER, Rogue Agent, Literary Mama, Cultural Weekly, Un(mother) anthology & film, and elsewhere. Her poem “Driving Through Death Valley” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Cultural Daily, and her debut chapbook “Feed It to the River” is available from Moon Tide Press in 2022. Terhi lives in Los Angeles and facilitates poetry for personal growth.

When Your Aging Mother Reveals 

Her Endometriosis in Passing


You never thought to pull up

the roots & look what you carried

from your mother,

because all the flowers she planted

bloomed & you watched

as she arranged perennials in soil,

gently untangling the knots, always,

such knowledge in her hands;

you grew up believing,

little girls are made of geranium,

chrysanthemum, & alstroemeria,

& when you tried to grow them,

spreading the root balls in the hole

in the ground, you watched

as they died in the sun,

each flower dropped their necks;

you never thought of lichen,

on dead wood & tombstones,

wrapping around your wombs,

how your mother hushed up

those rosette patterns on rocks

& boulders; how she looked,

doubled over in pain;

never thought it climbs up so silent,

that crusty growth on red cedar tree;

the only clue, your flowers,

hosta leaves turning yellow,

until she drops

the name of your beast.


When Cleopatra Lost Her Kingdom, She Ate a Fig

after Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber’s film,

Pieces of a Woman


She doesn’t fight, drives

her man to the harbor,


the passenger door shuts

like the last word.


At home, a ripe fig forgotten

in the fruit bowl,


one that Eve had plucked

instead of an apple,


the bud opening a teardrop,

the size of her thumb.


She thinks of the flesh,

how tender the skin


soaked in water,

how sweet the last bite;


recalls the baby

descending in the canal


of her body like

to a creek,


the unmistakable urge

to push,


the blue velvet skin

turning to violet.


Sees it clearly now,

like the day staring


behind the open blinds,

how he drinks in a cheap room,


slips a fifty

into a stranger’s bra,


pulls that girl

into his saddened lap.


Recalls the eyes

that hardly opened,


hands cupping the face

in the bath.


Was this acceptance –


he against a stranger’s ribs,

she alone with a fig?


And what it would be like

to knock the bowl over,


squash the fig gently

under her foot,


release the sweet flesh

from the purple skin?

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