“Sacrifice” by Lock Howe

I met her walking
down the river of stars. She looked at me strangely
as one does when they recognize someone in a place
they didn’t expect them to be. I didn’t know her but when her face broke
into a smile I could feel mine mirroring
and I realized we were kin. She did not recognize
My face, my frame. She recognized the helices,
the twisting DNA. She recognized the
stories in my blood- Ogham
first written in the fertile soil of her valley.But she also recognized that broken
Thing within me. That shard
I call a soul, trapped between my lungs.
She placed a hand on my torso.
‘You are like me, one piece of a thousand, one thousand pieces of one thing. I too was
(And as she
spoke, she let me
feel every word)
“A geyser lifted my body high And smote me down upon the land”
(Her smile never
faded as she
“The new river I had made
caught me in its grasp, drove me against tree
and stone. The tendons in my shoulder stretched and
My arm torn from me,
flowing in the raging water,
But it was not lost to me. I existed in that arm, My hand was mine
and it was me. As was my leg when it was
ripped from my hip. I could still see with the eye
knocked loose from my head. Of course it hurt
But I knew this was not
dying but becoming
my body could no longer hold.
Every part of me was torn away, but
I remained with
every part of me. I was broken
upon the land and became the river; I was broken
upon the mirroring sky and became the river of stars.
A civilization was born in the valley of Boyne, charting time by my stars.
Of course it wasn’t a punishment to give life-
To become stars. There’s parts of you, out there, somewhere,
They are still you, and one day,
You will feel them too.”

Lock Howe grew up in rural Tennessee in a conservative, Baptist area. Raised atheist and liberal, Lock struggled with feelings of isolation and confusion, themes that are prominent in their writing. After high school, they studied creative writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, where they had two pieces published in the college literary journal. Still living in Southern Appalachia, Lock is constantly inspired by nature. As they have delved into their own spirituality, separate from atheism or Christianity, and investigated their own gender identity, they have translated this into writing.

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