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Plein Air: What the Scarecrow Thought, by Niamh Corcoran


I am beginning
to splinter, all the rain and heat last summer,
and months of standing between tiller and mower
alone with my thoughts from first frost until now.
I remember only the mingled smells, ripeness
and rot. Tell me, what was the difference then?
I failed you and could not keep the crows away,
but still you will carry me to the garden’s edge,
dress me, give me a body, try to teach
me to keep death and scavengers away.
I know the drill. I am grateful for ritual.
You lift me from the trapped cellar. We enter
a broth of light and cross the lawn together.
Purple crocuses appear before forsythia.
You stake me here and I keep watch for you.
Not too far away, there is a wall
of pear trees guarding an apple orchard.
Scanning branches for hints of the season,
I start to think of love as lack of fear.
And why shouldn’t I love the murder,
though they plot, black buds on pear tree branches,
to rake the garden for seed or excrement?
Black birds falling from the trees, they ravage me.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 13.
Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Niamh Corcoran’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Third Coast, Magma, Limestone, Ekphrasis, and elsewhere. A poet and a visual artist, she lives in Maryland with her family.

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