The Lesson of the Loaf by Julia Bell
September 11, 2020
Postcard Cantos from Our First Days of Self-Isolation by Sarah Stretton and Gael Bell
September 11, 2020

Amulet, and one more

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.