A slender stem without grain
I bend before you. See: my face
has made you room; your finger
fits every ridge. I would give these hands
to hold you, give good eyes to see
in yours the look of the found child
again. You make me want to share
All that week
I lay half awake, one eye sewn along the lid —
roof thatched over the bright-breasted thief
collecting his bed before sun met horizon.
Other eye, wary and forward, answered duty
making face to the day, watching the words
tickertape from my teeth, limbs swinging
on parallel planes.
At night my eyes, plumed cousins,
alighted the rafters, pulling close what they fear
with songs like trembling fingers, locked in a round
in the stone of a fist.
They say straw death is a death
in bed and straw in the hair is madness
but the head of the house can be straw as well
— my open door
its broken pane.
A straw man is a cheat
and a scam, and straw boys
scatter guests at the wedding
Wearing masks of stalk and grass
as the fields follow suite with new green
and rain attends to its graves.
My grandmother has revealed to me
her chest is lined with petals.
She’ll give sweet blood when table-laid,
smelling of potting ash, soil and weeds.
In rosewater jars we’ll bury her.
When I last saw you, my heart burned out
ahead. I stood in its shadow and heat
as it lit the room, brought you into relief
rendering dark my companion.
I could not hide I wanted you.
I could do nothing but burn.
And were I born to water’s house
I would still fear fire and crave it.
Once: I had a straw girl
with straw hair, arms and limbs.
Denim hat and dress, and calico slippers.
She could not dance. She was
faceless. Thin as a needle, head like
a match, she made for poor decoration.
I stand before you
from the flutes of my heart.
One glance splits hull
from grain. Look now and see
I have changed.
Copyright © 2018 Meghan Hickey. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Straw Girl, a limited edition monograph published by Anchorite Press.
Please note: this poem has been revised since publication.