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.