Bari Degi, Two Poems by Meesha Goldberg

Mountain Top Budoji Meesha Goldberg


            after the Korean myth Bari Degi 

1. The Queen So Stunned

Where do tigers sleep? she thought

while praying in the dark

She prayed so hard

her lips had long gone automatic

She prayed so hard

even indifferent spirits

stirred in their den in the stars she prayed 

so hard

the brass tongues in her skull chimed

so hard her knees polished the pine floor

& sweat bled through her dress

Can you first smell the tiger? You can’t 

help these thoughts 

while listening for spirit

She prayed so hard her palms calloused

as farmer’s & her heart charred

but after 100 nights 

she & the king shared the same dream 

of the big dipper 


light into their breast

so she forgot 

prayer is a hollowing 

for fate 

She prayed so hard that when still this seventh baby

was born a girl

the queen so stunned

to be abandoned by the gods

agreed to leave it in the mountains

in its brother’s useless silk

on which she scrawled

in royal blood



Budos Sacred Medicine Meesha Goldberg

2. Wild Bound Till Fifteen

In darkness my mother’s 

yellow eyes spotlight

Every muscle listens for how 

the owl heralds & the boughs pine

My hunger rustles & those moons

set to meet mine, purr a lullaby till I latch

a teat in her whitest fur. I’m cream warm

bare skinned & sated it’s like

no harm could ever come

She is my god 

& my god delicious

Licked twice by my mother’s tongue

her copper breath soothes me 

When I dream I wake

& every eye in the rockface blinks in sympathy

The mountain lives

I pick up chants by the echoing den

alphabets in constellations

every plant suggests its spirit

every wind a parable

By the new year I’m reared 

in the art of stillness

as the cubs learn patience by the hunt

mimicking their matriarch

The forest’s feral almanac 

opens its hard spine &

by & by I’m schooled

& refined through survival

Scrying veins in riverstone

saving seed to spring scatter

etching reflections in turtle bone

wild bound till fifteen 

& freshly bled

a woman

written and illustrated by ©Meesha Goldberg

Meesha Goldberg is a Korean American artist and poet living in Charlottesville, VA. Her experiences growing food, serving as an activist, and journeying to sacred places have made her a powerful advocate for the Earth. Goldberg has exhibited her work in solo shows around the United States, with her debut poetry chapbook “The Seed is Waiting in the Dark” forthcoming in 2024 through Finishing Line Press. Her art crosses the boundaries of genre to both experience and express transformational repair. Performance, ritual, painting, film, and poetry merge in durational, place-based works and gallery installations that insist upon the re-enchantment of the world. 

The Seed Is Waiting in the Dark by Meesha Goldberg

This title will be released on January 19, 2024

The Seed is Waiting in the Dark confronts the realities of ecological catastrophe and diasporic displacement with the lyric intensity of a life lived reckoning with questions of collective survival. Included within this debut collection are five of Goldberg’s paintings, which poignantly illustrate these feral, visionary poems. Full of grief, grace, and lessons from the land, The Seed is Waiting in the Dark conjures ancestral instincts to claim belonging within the cycles of natural life.


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