Ali Salzman

Lady of the River: A Portrait

Siberian Landscape by Nikolay Vryasov

she wears a skirt of smooth white pebbles
and bracelets made from the molars
of all the men who have loved her absolutely
she sleeps in a dead pine tree
and snarls through her silver teeth
from her mossy antlers hang trophies
of willow branches and minnows

nine rusted fishhooks hang from her lips
she hunts low, spears crayfish with her fingernails

dries them on river rocks and covers
them with blades of grass
she hides behind a fallen birch
while eating cattail roots and killdeer eggs
dips one foot into the glassy water
catches dragonflies in her snarled hair
her nest is lined with feathers
and built from her lovers’ jawbones
her young have begun to hatch there


About the writer:
Ali Salzmann graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University, where she currently works as a Lecturer. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Austin Community College.

Image: Siberian Landscape by Nikolay Vryasov. No medium specified. 174 x 142 cm. No date specified. By permission. Vryasov is the O:JA&L Featured Artist for July 2019.