The Bravery of Cotton


sheets in a thunderstorm,

clipped to the line                    forgotten.


And later, tumbling around the hot dark,

static stars wheeling from the fibers.


Sometimes I picture it raw                  still on the stem,

plucked and pressed to a bleeding cheek,

seeds and all.

As if healing were so simple.


The fields quiver with boll weevils                  whose tiny teeth tear their own insulation,

feeding             like children in a fairytale        on their one chance for shelter,

seeing it disappear—melt—from soft flossy whirls of white into sugary grit.


Someone told me cotton scents are completely artificial,

that real cotton smells like sweat, or like something burning.


And now I see that the fields are on fire,

that maybe they were always on fire,

and I’ve been standing here, at the edge of an oily ocean                   burning.




Natalie Homer is an MFA candidate at West Virginia University. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in The Lascaux Review, Ruminate, Salamander, Bellevue Literary Review, and others. She spends her free time taking quizzes like "How high is your pizza IQ?" and "Which Jane Austen hunk is your soulmate?"