Dean Symmonds

dorothy gale goes home

when i turned sixteen, auntie em
invited a farm boy cousin to dinner
and laid out the bleached linens & silver-
ware & i knew it was time to witch

myself into a tornado & run
& flurry & fly & swallow miles
of heartland, all that dust & manure
curdling on my tongue like a boy’s

horse breath, & i prayed to mary
magdalene & virginia woolf
that a woman’s land would find me
& before i opened my penitent eyes

i could smell gold; & i saw a witch’s
peony-pink lips; & she said, welcome,
sweet girl, to the family that will unpit
your heart; & she reached into my chest

& magicked muscle to peach core to silver
shoe; & she slid them on my feet; & she said,
remember, you can dance with whomever
you love; & she left & i looked for the boys

who always prowl like exiles at the end
of any field i’m in; but i saw a lion,
a scarecrow, & a tin man as glistening
& newborn as my slippers, & i recognized

in them the same hunger for being: for a kiss
from the most beautiful mirror image;
& we left on our quest; & when we tumbled
into a poppy field, i saw a vision of a girl

braiding her nightstalk hair into starry ropes
that fell down each of her rounded shoulders
& she looked up & smiled & i knew her breath
tasted like cherries but i still crawled to her

to find out & when we kissed we danced
without thinking for years & hours,
our spangled slippers beating poppy petals
into pulp & i bled dyke red in those silver shoes—

i kissed her dyke mouth & stumbled awake
when the tin man & lion & scarecrow carried me
into the city; the dream of her had made me flower-light;
& we continued our quest with those witches

& munchkins & hot air balloons; & the pink witch
saw my red feet & hugged me & told me
to tap my ankles & i woke up tasting
tornado dust. i was late for dinner.

my heart again calcified into a peach pit
at the sight of my farm boy cousin waiting
with a ring. i couldn’t unravel all the wanting
in me for my poppy vision girl quick enough

to tell him no. i wanted another dance. i wanted
to dream up my own future. here’s
what i wish i could say: i went back.
i went back. i went back.

Dean Symmonds is a lesbian poet from the South seeking their BAs in Creative Writing and Religious Studies at Hollins University. They work as a Poetry Editor at Persephone's Daughters. They placed second in the 2017 and 2018 Lex Allen Literary Festivals, judged by Li-Young Lee and Cynthia Manick respectively. Their poems have been published in magazines like Yes Poetry, Bad Pony Magazine, Monstering, Crab Fat Magazine, Gravel, and The Album; their nonfiction can be found in Shakespeare & Punk. Their academic work on the Virgin Mary and Southern womanhood and their work on the Western, gayness, and violence were published on the Hollins Digital Commons in 2017 and 2018. You can find them on Twitter @poetpersephone