J.C. Reilly

In the Belly

Like pricks of flame inside
the Sacred Mother’s womb,
life begins to stir. 
Not quite spring yet, but soon.
An earthen heat builds,
to loosen the dormant seeds
and bulbs, prepare them
for the growing cycle.

Her passion shakes free,
like ducks lifting off a lake’s
surface, her fires impatient
as the first daffodils
that break through
frozen ground. She revels
in the circling—circling—
the new-old gestation of ages.

Tonight we extinguish
all candles to rekindle them;
we light our hearths.
We focus deep within the glow,
see transformation
in its flickering.  This is Imbolc,
in the belly, a feast
to remind us we are tethered

as an umbilicus to the earth,
that what ripens within her now
allows us to be
her fires beneficent only as long
as we do not upset
her purpose. She cannot
regenerate what
we kill from misuse.



A month of cure, and the rabbit’s fur regrows
over the fading red seam of the wound.
It’s time for my charge to return to his life outside,
to find his warren and his mate.  With a sigh,
I release him to the garden, bless
him on his way.  All day he hops in the grass
and samples zinnias and munches herbs
and flowering carrot, but never wanders far.

I watch from my kitchen window,
and a few times from the porch,
waiting for the moment he will venture
beyond the hedges and disappear in the brush
to the green wild places he used to run.
But the rabbit seems content to snuffle
my plants, and sometimes to catch my eye,
as if making certain I have not gone far. 

At noon I set out water.  At suppertime,
zucchini and cabbages on a plate by the stoop.
At moonset I open the front door,
and welcome him to spend the night.
The rabbit, not needing to be asked twice,
bounds up my front steps and into my front room.
Finding the crate he’s slept in since I first took
him in, he—Edgar
settles into the hay, fully now at home.





J.C. Reilly is the author of the narrative poetry collection What Magick May Not Alter (Madville Publishing, 2020). She won the Sow's Ear Poetry Prize in 2020 for the forthcoming chapbook Amo e Canto, and she serves as the Managing Editor of Atlanta Review. Since the pandemic started, she has worn out all of her pajamas. Follow her @aishatonu.