Elizabeth Powell reads
I Crush and Compress, Ruin and Ravage the Raw
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I crush and compress, ruin and ravage the raw, Muddy land forever thick with clash and brawl. Victor or not, slave or master, Both I bind in my death. They are Warrior-fortified, drink a solider’s brew Mad from my belly-sac. Sometimes A young bride weaves and walks on me; Care has not yet trampled her. Her feet Won’t touch the earth. The laborer is worthy Of his reward, if there is one. The drunken slave- Girl is dark haired in the velvet closing Of night and lifts me to the hell-hot fire, So that I may lull and invite— Her hot hands are full of kneading, Pressing, shoving, pulling. Say what I am whom they kill so that they can Remember who they are And that in slaying me they may not die. Listen to more readings from The Word Exchange »