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  • Vanilla (A Herstory)
  • Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers (bio)

Vanilla (A Herstory)

From loam, climb poles—     also known as “tutors”—the leaves x-ing the vines like sutures     or fleshy scars. What they never wanted

us to know: bees     have other business. For easy pollination, the hand’s always       been the best.

A splint or blade     is less clumsy, lifting up the flap. Then the whole     process before the market: kill,

sweat, dehydrate. Give it       grades. Vanilla or “little pod,” comes out       of Latin’s “vagina.”

It was everywhere in that girls’       locker room, its cloy masking dead grass,     B.O. and dirty pads—everyone kept

spray in the locker. The most popular     method was to pump a cloud in front of you, then run       through it like a sprinkler. [End Page 110]

We had two good thoughts     on winning boys: 1. breasts 2. smell like food. I had to shake     my bottle hard; it always wafted less

like cake, more like a fifth of Malibu.     I heard that Cortes stole it. For this wild orchid       a twelve-year-old slave

taught himself     to smear, by hand, stigmas with anther     dust. And that was just

the beginning     for him: soon, all women anointed, dabbed extract       behind their ears.

It’s expensive and labor-       intensive, this crop of pods, narrow     ladyfingers. Poor us, not

remembering our own greed       that made the cake & smut bath & candles.       In the end, I blame myself

for being so boring in bed.     If you want me, I’ll be in the kitchen. I must make       something more of myself. [End Page 111]

Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers

Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers is the author of Chord Box (U of Arkansas P), finalist for the Miller Williams Prize. Recent work appears in POOL, Crazyhorse, FIELD, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals. She lives in rural Ohio and is currently an inaugural Kenyon Review Fellow.



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pp. 110-111
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