THE MOON OF LONG NIGHTS
At first, whatever drought carries the fiddlebacks
inside from the salt. The old women are speaking about jasmine.
An imagined June. Are telling you what they know
about the night. That the woman
who once held the sky’s hands against her dress whispered
drowning when the sun washed red across the river
they say she fled from backwoods to bathe in a bowl of fire.
But in truth, she walked slowly with a shawl around her shoulders,
arms folded, her husband watching from a window in the house.
LANTERN, THEN LIGHT
Once, when the women ate rattlesnake and dreamt
they grew scales over their skin
How the sky came trembling upon the house.
Or the house,
filled with milk, shroud and craving,
the night that found flies in its neck, the night’s wrenchings
of dirt and nail.
Then I was only a speck in the fields, Lord.
A Lowing. Loose pasture,
the coop’s handful of shell.
That the women who feared too few fish
and fowl, Lord. The women who washed their backs
bare in the river,
warned their sons would wear fins and feathers.
That they dreamt the sky’s eight eyes!
Then came Your Season of Dust, Lord. The bedroom’s light
and leather. Luster. His watching the crows from the window.
Lord, his black, black hair.
KINGFISHER COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, 1929
March when the man watches the woman,
her hair wet with clay,
his wishing she were pretty. May,
when the man stands pale against the field,
his fist filled with new seed, the woman
reeled over split rock and weed.
Later, the hints of Indian Summer. Yellow leaf.
Its slack streaks of brass and green.
That October. A stray dog, black and tearing at
his fur, walks west along their road in early morning.
Were it that the river lay like the children’s skin
satiable, slight but withstanding.
Some nights, when the women would dress in deerskin,
drunk on the river’s water, my daughter with her dulcet
songs for the long dead. Their Purring and Purging.
Her Winter of the Newly Converted.
Winter, when the women wore their hair in high braids.
When the river shook its thin-hooked fingers,
and the water rose to eat its only edges,
then the women who feared endless dust, knew days
like night and dust, and night came with its own kind
of absolution. Absence. Alchemy. Ice returning to water.
©2005 Stacy Kidd
Stacy Kidd recently completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas where she held the Walton Fellowship in Poetry. Currently a Lecturer in English at Oklahoma State University, she has published most recently in DMQ Review and Verse Daily.