Artichoke Heart

And another of my mother’s lies was the prize

dug from the heart of the artichoke.


And the heart of the artichoke was a dilated cervix.

And the dilated cervix was a single choke-fringed eye.


The eye was the stigma

of the plant protected by thorny leaves and the stamen.


I scraped the meaty pith

at the torn-off tips with my milk teeth to reach the heart.


She told me to dip the meat of the leaves in butter: warm, silken.

She said eat all the way to the inside: there was a prize in the heart of the artichoke.


But it was soft, the heart, and I imagined

a small plastic baby doll, tiny as my own girl thumb


lying unclothed

on the blue-green velvet heart.

Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of the chapbook, Apostrophe and the chapbook, After Bird, from Grey Book Press. Her work has appeared in Thrush, [Pank], Glass Poetry Journal, Cleaver, and The Heavy Feather Review. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as a co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Folio.