She liked the way I watched
the redstart work the berry
from the butcher’s broom
and how I quieted my body
when the stoat poked its
twitchy whiskers from its den.
She liked when Mrs. Trengrouse
poked me with her hazel stick
while I crouched to see the pearls
on a fritillary feeding from a thistle
so I didn’t hear her gwragh boots
frizzling the heath or the air shift
with the silent pinching of her cackle.
She liked the poke and how my eyes
poked back – but only underneath
my fluttered lids – and how I greeted
Mrs. T. as if meeting her for tea and
thanking her for pouring extra cream.
Then I saw a sudden blur of chert
and bramble spike into a stealthy dip
and snare of extra roughness beneath
the logan stones as Mrs. Trengrouse
humphed her mumbles toward
her stony ancient moss-ridden lair
and I was quick to her side
when she stumbled
and I walked with her to home
where I pillowed up her leg
and made her tea and she
even let me mother,
silly poking cow.
Dazy, she was, and no wonder, all her
sure-footed spite knocked out into
a wobble on a road she’d ever stomped
straight-backed and firmly down.
And when I went away
I said I would be back
with goosegrass for her scrapes
and an ear for her barking tales
devil’s bargains, and the lady
of Dozmary Pool.
The light was leaving as I picked my way
through a drear and coming fog. I have eyes
like a beast cat’s and the dark – even
after the old fool’s bleddy lore – is no
enemy of mine but I know I am a girl
and not a mist and I know my wits and
steps can fail and falter when the path
is but a broth of vapor
and half-remembered goings-on.
A spark of song hatched from a shape
of crag and I saw – though how I saw
in so much dusky damp I never riddled out –
I saw a webby dress the color of tor and bracken
and a laugh the color of friendly stars.
They said I’d been gone for three full days
and that I looked well fed and scrubbed
with early morning sparkles.
No one seemed frantic when I woke
to faces peery in the logan stones
where they found me bedded in the heath.
But they did seem to keep away
even as they wrapped me in
some needless flurry of shawl
and shaken nerves. And I see her
in the skylark and the warbler and the snipe
and in all the fissured gestures of the stones,
and sometimes without warning
she resolves into a poke between
my heedless shoulders as I’m lulled
into the sedge and boggled grasses
after butterfly or vole
and reminds me of the iridescent
spreading of my own
gawky, rugged, pearly, earthen wings.
Kate Falvey’s work has been published in many journals and anthologies, including four previous issues of Deep Overstock; in a full-length collection, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books); and in two chapbooks, What the Sea Washes Up (Dancing Girl Press) and Morning Constitutional in Sunhat and Bolero (Green Fuse Poetic Arts). She co-founded (with Monique Ferrell) and edited the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech (City University of New York) where she teaches, and is an associate editor for the Bellevue Literary Review.