Monday, July 25, 2005


In the story I tell you there are two girls,
sisters. One is the beautiful, the other

sweeps the brown cinders over
the hot bricks. It is she, the plainer,

who meets the woman in the woods,
who is blessed with rose hips and juniper

under her step, with smooth stones fallen
like words, rounded by breath. This is how

she learns to sing. Her sister spoke
and her tongue forked into snakes,

leading away. I am the woman in the woods.
Two nights after the night I learned

to separate sex from pain, the old threads
re-stitched themselves. He cupped

his hands. I looked inside and saw
the blue of our little world, the drop-

stitch of stars, the black jag where
the needle had missed. We slept. I tried

to slip my hand inside, but his fingers
were laced. My careful hem crept

down, covering knees. On my tongue,
an amethyst, swallowed. I don’t know

how to tell you what she grew into.
She was plain, after all. The tacks were rough.

The red petals bruised under her feet,
and made the kitchen floorboards slick

with blood. Her sister’s snakes scared
the village away. Eventually, the men

stopped coming to the door with their axes
tipped behind their heads. The sky

grew large past the half moon of their blades.
From the box in the attic, she took

the old dress. She would let the dress out.
She would fill it with her body.