Back to Issue Eighteen.

Says the Forest to the Girl


Am a ladder of ravens.
Am blazon and bloom.
Bones in a stem: your mother’s bones.

Not a face, a knife, a sanctuary—

but leaf, and pantomime of leaf. Dawn’s ice
like a glass doll’s dress, its hem of snow.
And you here, in your basket’s shadow.

Want your sleep’s thick
castle of bones, its fruit-weight
to fill me.

Will tell you a story if you’ll just lie down.

Not the oven-song your mother sang.
(Weren’t her lips fine?) Not the ghosts
her pockets could not feed, tipping out

bits of heart, the apple’s meat.

Have made a black soup for your singing mouth.
Let the stars slip in,
your buckles and comb. Stir

to shine.
Drink the world
you won’t admit you want—

sleep’s your jewel, sleep’s not
what the villagers say,
but these black wings flapping at your own heart’s floor.

You’ll find her there,
her breath in the loam: ground lashes,
ground collar. Once she was like you—bloom

in a wolf’s gold eye. Once her body
grew from me. This
is the story: to wake

you must claim it, crow-close in the telling. Climb
in. Lid to root.
Am singing you down.

Sally Rosen Kindred is the author of two poetry books from Mayapple Press, Book of Asters (2014) and No Eden (2011), and the chapbook Darling Hands, Darling Tongue (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). She has received fellowships from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and her poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Linebreak, Blackbird, Verse Daily, and other journals.

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