Foxgloves by Christina Butcher

Lock and load your magazine

Remember Neustadt

Where you traipsed along the edges of dusty vineyards
Heading toward a stand of foxgloves

Drooping in the sun
Primrose carousels calling you
To drop all pretense, to

Ready yourself on the left
Ready on the right.

Dig your elbows into gravel and

Feel the ease with which a flower can be fitted over your

(With which your forefinger curls in the trigger well
Resting in the fat)

Accept it, finally:
What you do and do not love
The hardness in you which cannot be softened
And your eagerness to taste the buttery yellows of
A foxglove’s blooming trumpet

Opening to
Nothing else

Rotate your selector switch from safe to semi and
Slip your tongue into the mottled pinks of the pistil

Fire at will.
Watch the petals unfurl across your lane
Every time the hammer falls. Let Neustadt ring out.

Fill your mouth with shells still hot from the firing
And remember you are particularly well-suited to
The quiet danger of figwort, digitalis pupurea,

Meaning “the ease with which a flower can be fitted over a
Fingertip” and a mouth can hold secrets like bullets.

Remember you are prone to anticipating the shot
That in Neustadt, you kept unsent letters
Fed, chambered and locked between your teeth

Unwilling to fire.
You knew it in Neustadt

But you kept on walking,
The foxgloves beckoning,
Your bolt never locking to the rear.

Christina Butcher is a freelance writer and veteran from Chaparral, New Mexico. Before serving as a linguist in the U.S. Army, she worked on cultural preservation projects and developed a passion for storytelling and community involvement. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from New Mexico State University and a certificate in storytelling and content strategy from Washington State University. She lives and writes in Tacoma, Washington.