The witch I have become
I plant cosmos and zinnia, flowers that hold
their own crowns in their centers. I plant foxglove,
so that at the new moon a fox will come
and slip her paws into the soft mittens of the flowers.
I memorize recipes for buttermilk pancakes, meatballs,
and negronis. My cat is white, my little dog is grey,
my plastic cauldron holds candy once a year. I shrank
my herb garden to basil, rosemary, sage, mint.
If the walls of my house were gingerbread
I would have eaten them myself long ago.
Standing in the center of the library I cast
my net wide over all the words, reel them in,
measure and photograph them, then
toss them back. Facts saved for solving puzzles,
songs cresting waves of air, wishes spelled
into daisy chains, wooden spoon the wand
in plain sight. My son tells me blue jeans and t-shirts
are my uniform. My brain became a squirrel, a crow,
an octopus, seeking all things tasty and shiny and useful.
I have a forest in my eyes, an ocean in my heart, a bonfire
in my skull, dictionaries swimming through my arteries.
Once I walked out into a morning layered
with coastal fog, moved through wisps of moisture,
and through it blinked a swarm of monarch butterflies.
Once I walked through an open mouth, stood inside
a stone head. When I spoke my voice carried
over an Italian park all the way to the crooked house
on the other side of the garden of monsters.
Merie Kirby grew up in California, earned her MFA from the University of Minnesota. She now lives in Grand Forks, ND, where she teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of The Dog Runs On and The Thumbelina Poems. Her poems have been published in The Tiger Moth Review, SWIMM, Strange Horizons, Whale Road Review, and other journals. She has also written operas and art songs in collaboration with composers. She’s online at www.meriekirby.com.