SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Girl Upon a Time

Sky is a woven rug, a measured opening ––

a “window,” from wind eye.

Hinges are smooth as ligaments,

and her fingers leave oily prints.

 

You may wear this tale

like a hat, a wondrous little hat

from the pelt of a mouse.

 

A canopy of swallows. The river’s steep banks.

The girl runs with the boys, then hides

in sprawling hedges –– beech and rhododendron.

 

She knows a place to slip into ––

lower the bridge, walk the sheep and fox,

cows and knights in procession to the fields.

The moat deepens. Look, poor Rapunzel’s

long braids uncoil from the sill.

 

The girl is looking under leaves

for mice and spiders.

She rips her sandwich for the dogs,

calls them her strays.

 

On a narrow sidewalk,

a little hairy man blocks her way

with his scales and knives.

She tries to run, sand sucks at her feet,

she stumbles, falls into the air's updraft ––

her dress spreads like a sheet.

A girl is a cloud of dust.

 

In the yard, metal posts are sunk into holes.

On rainy days, they fill with water and bugs.

She hears of storm petrels, lit as lamps ––

oily flames mounted on sticks, a wick shoved down the throat.

Things one can not pronounce another way.

 

Clamor in the street––voracious brooms

suck in leaves and garbage.

The many worlds are falling –– the seven brothers,

three sisters. She hides, counts her fingers.

This is the dry tongue of utterance.

 

But the second son still goes out into the world

to learn about fear. At night,

bronzed in smoke, the seven ravens return.

The girl slips through a fence.

 

She is falling toward the upon-time,

dark against the luminous wind eye.

Her dress is woven into the sky.

 

In the sallow wax of morning,

street lamps are bright nebulae.

The window’s stern eyes relent

to swirls and river snails.

 

Worms scatter holes,

bored in the wooden frame.

She blows the dust, pulls up her hair.


Leonore Hildebrandt’s latest collection, Where You Happen to Be, is forthcoming with Deerbrook Editions. Her poems and translations have appeared in Cafe Review, Cerise Press, the Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, Poetry Salzburg Review, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. She was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. Leonore teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves as an editor for the Beloit Poetry Journal.

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