All My Imperfections's image
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The woods I walk each night are lit

by thunder bugs. Their soft bodies,

tiny lanterns, emit a slight now-green-

now-yellow glow.


The trees here are friendly creatures —

they cast shadows only of themselves.

They know what I’m in search of

and sway with pleasure when I find it —

a portrait of all my imperfections.


See my dress, a magnificent, wicked red,

my hair, a tattered raven; my feet,

dropped and bare; my wings patched;

my back arched; my flight unsettled —

look, this is who I am, my authentic self.


I carry my portrait to the forest edge,

to delight in it and to share — a grave mistake.

I brush against a Cailleach and when she stirs,

there’s no recourse but to stand with the trees

and watch, to remain silent and watch.


Her blue hands winter the dark,

and though the trees are honourable —

as witness, they are mute. She touches me,

there, my red dress, and there, my bare feet,

and there, my torn wings.


She puts a stone in my mouth,

cackles when I object, then leaves.

Inside the woods I speak sorrow without ceasing.

I dig, lower the canvas into the forgiving earth,

lay it, face down, on top of my shorn wings.


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