Elizabeth Powell reads

I Crush and Compress, Ruin and Ravage the Raw

You need Flash to listen to this track.

Download (mp3)

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 »