Poetry: Rachel Custer’s “Hellebore”

Rachel Custer



“Spring Series: Painting #1” (detail) by Alejandro Rosemberg


After an altar call, the children run
as if pursued, their little bellies

full of god. Hellfire in their throats
of wine. Something is growing

behind the church: lenten roses
in the snow, bruise-purple

but convincing themselves
they’re black. I’ve come back

to the place I was planted.
Indiana, Indiana, if I ever wanted

you, it was stretched before me
like this: rowdy in your holiness,

poisonous in your beauty, like
a sleeping cottonmouth. Yawning awake.


About the writer:
Rachel Custer‘s first full-length collection, The Temple She Became, is available from Five Oaks Press. Other work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, OSU: The Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, B O D Y, [PANK], and The Antigonish Review. Rachel Custer is the O:JA&L “Featured Writer” for February 2019. On February 13, 2019, Rachel Custer officially became a recipient of a 2019 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Image:Spring Series: Painting #1” by Alejandro Rosemberg. Oil on canvas. 23.6 x 43.3 inches. 2015. By permission. Rosemberg is a hyperrealist painter. Rosemberg is from Buenos Aires where he paints and teaches classical techniques. He attended the National University of Cordoba Art School where he received his degree in Fine Arts in Painting. He continued his study of classical painting based on the Italian Great Masters Tradition with Maestro Claudio Bogino. Alejandro Rosemberg is the O:JA&L “Featured Artist” for February 2019.