A Poem by Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a writer from Dallas, Texas. She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the Ohio State University, where she is the Associate Managing Editor of The Journal. Her poems appear in Meridian, North American Review, and are forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine and Nimrod.


          Their bloated bodies line the highways
close to home. I’ve never seen one alive
          trudging across sandy soil, tail mirrored in the length
of its own snout. I find them feet-up, tail-down, head severed

          on another part of road. My father tells me,
armadillos carry leprosy. We must’ve learned not to touch them
           when we were young and running in the tall grass
of cattle country. In Leviticus, someone told Moses

          to clean the dead with two live birds, cedar, and hyssop—
a flowering herb so akin to bluebonnets, I question which plant
          is inked on my own ankle. Centuries later in a land
not their own, on a failed mission for salvation,

          crusaders carried lepronic lesions and gangrene, skeletal
frames beneath chain link and breast plates. One
          of their kings, sick himself, could not bring his body
even to blink. He died blind, his eyes dry and wide,

          staring into the heat of the desert. I hold cow parsley
close to my chest, take in another quiet, hot field.
          Someone paid twice the asking price for soil
that grows nothing but weeds. It’s a wonder

          any critter lives here, even one so armored. I shove
my feet into boots ankle-deep, grind up the land
          with my heels, root myself into this expanse that was
never mine. I place my weeds in a vase of clean water.