don’t/ can’t/ should/ never/ bad:
These are the spells to bind
her ballerina feet to stubs,
stiffen her hips, seal her breasts
and snap her waist in two.
A sister’s or a mother’s mouth
babbles them behind her, so as fast
as they braid up her hair and zip
her dress, they disassemble her
into limp strings and gaps.
A toad tied to her headboard
shrills them, shredding her dreams.
The counter-spells cannot be hissed
but crooned. Words stuttered like a comb
through broken ends, then sidling higher,
stroking from the crown. Words slipping
silver baby spoons between her lips,
trickling half-heard chimes
into her ears, piecing her mirror
like a crazy quilt. Spells she has to say
herself, in chorus, every splintered bit
hunting its cricket voice into a crack,
say them for years, before they take:
do/ can/ may/ this time/ good.
Kristin Camitta Zimet is Editor of The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and author of the full collection Take in My Arms the Dark. Her poems are in journals including Poet Lore and Bellevue Literary Review. She is a photographer and nature guide in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Read an interview with Kristin here.