The good and fearful people of the village adorn their doorsteps,
leaving gifts they hope will deter the old fury from stealing
their babes from their beds—nine pieces of silver and nine
goat tears, a slab of venison, golden-yolked eggs. Weary of
the Evil Hour they scour their thresholds with a thimble of mother’s
milk, sugared as syrup, toss a scatter of their best millet-grain.
Lilac, cognac, burdock and bone—swollen with shadow. Tiny
pots of jams, both rhubarb and fig, tubes of rouge, a silken night-
gown. A goblet of brewed nightshade and honey, a hand-hewn rattle,
painted with stars. They call her Lilith, Edilta, Yamnos, Lamia,
twelve names in all and whosoever will write them and hang
them above their door will be spared of their green, green grief.
I take note. Write them all down in my book. Slip on the dress,
paint my face, I dip fingers into the rhubarb and gorge.
Jessica Dionne is a PhD student at GSU and the production editor of New South. She received her MFA from NC State, and an MA from UNCC. Her chapbook Second-Hand Love Stories is forthcoming from Fjords Press. She was the runner-up in Meridian’s 2021 Editors’ Prize, and a finalist in Arts and Letters’ 2020 Poetry Prize, Iron Horse Literary Magazine’s 2020 contest, and Narrative’s 2019 30 Below contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Birdcoat Quarterly, Waccamaw, Hunger Mountain, Raleigh Review, SWWIM, Rust + Moth, Banshee (IE), and Mascara Literary Review (AU).
photo by Artsy Vibes (via unsplash)