Joshua Burton

Getting My Period At Age 11

I am like fountains in Cana. I am new— virgin-like cloaked in percaline. My hair has taken on its natural color. Colors fell from it divulging like spills. My body has become uncharted. Seraphim hover me— I am too old for him. The reds trickle from a gorge and becomes the perennial blood of water—


(my only daughter is sleeping) my shadow keeps her like a shelter. the thick air fell. here (in this cave) she grows like algae. (in worn sheets) near the clearing by the lake (I hang) thin sheets, draped across the empty space, nearly translucent. water drips near. (the moon sneaks in) there’s a sickness in every human.  our bed of sycamore leaves blow. (a few slip into the lake) I stare into it. (I feel its breath) stalactites like hands clutching down on her.


Joshua Burton is a University of Houston graduate. The poets who have influenced him the most are Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Louise Gluck, Anne Sexton, and Tracy K. Smith. “The poems here are in the voice of my mother from childhood to adulthood. The poems approach each stage of her life as a reaction to her being abused as a child, affecting the way she raised her own children and her relationship with her own body.”