Poetry by Jo Bratten
In these times we tighten, fasten locks
like lips, stockpile pills, believe
our own haptic power to summon
the fever-gods, draw blood to rub
across the lintel, into apotropaic
scratches cut into doors and walls.
You touch me like a mezuzah, hang me
by your heart, an omamori, a scapular,
a locketed caul; hold me on your lips
a cicada of jade, in your pocket like
a hare’s foot, a whelk’s shell; I circle
you like hag stones, word you a breverl:
the skies are quieter, clean; a blackbird
pauses, tilts her head, builds a nest.
Aarne-Thompson-Uther Type 310
We’re all maids in a tower now (I’ll be
Petrosinella – like Rapunzel but
empowered, with a handful of magic
acorns), locked inside four walls, unwashing
our hair, unshaving our armpits and legs,
loosening the casement once a day
to throw bits of old bread to bemused birds,
baking things we don’t intend to share.
Men lurk meaningfully outside, sighing
for a woman’s touch; they fret their guitars,
scan their plague poems below our windows,
explain how the two-metre rule doesn’t mean
we’re not allowed to talk. Please, they beg.
Inside we sharpen scissors, cut our hair.
This poem was written in response to our Stories in the Time of Covid19 project.