Ankh Spice

Terraforming manual

My trowel finds them first, clever sounding-
rod that it is. I garden away quiet; it chats up the roots
of the long-undisturbed. There’s a Russian storybook
where a prayer’s tongue is a little shovel – sharp
and persistent and so I name my digger only in Russian,
just in case. Levered free, each find becomes a space-
ship. Wrist-deep in loam, who dwells on the black hole
behind, what all the pleading jets us away from. We’re haloed
in floated wafts of particles, in sun-mote, knowing
this whole ball of dirt rises each day
from a clean grave. Inevitably the seed of morning
finds its way into the pit. Earth, magic, magic, earth,
simplest names for our biggest debts, and she’s heavy
and her heart is iron – this new weight in my palm
and this old ground shuttling our mass. And now you’re dying
to know. A millstone, a tooth, a body, a weapon, some sacred
artifact? I can only tell you yes. And yes and yes and yes,
at some point in this journey you’ll find, hold weeping,
each one of these. Rock at the edge of the depression 
each carves by leaving.  Sadovy sovok, let us dig and dig
through each day as a chant, pendulum of unmistaking swinging
from the arm. Word, lungs, tongue: wet airy things exist
only in the shape of the gasp, given time by the spells
they set sailing, planted how they fell. Don’t worry
if you curse. The detail doesn’t survive, finding
its form never mattered one whit. Take the shovel. Already
something new crouches in the crater, clamouring
for space. Might it weather safe, then escape.
May it wear only a fleeting impression
of whatever launched before it.

Ankh Spice is a queer, sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa New Zealand, author of The Water Engine (Femme Salvé Books, 2021). His poetry is eight times nominated for Pushcart Prize/Best of the Net, and was joint winner of The Poetry Archive’s PAN 2020 competition, and the Visual Verse 2022 Autumn Writing Prize. He’s a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine, and co-edits at IceFloe Press. Website:

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