Featured in Colorado Review
Instructive Fable for the Daughter I Don’t HaveFeatured, Poetry
Published Summer 2016
photo by gorchakov.artem
Walk into the woods and keep walking.
The tall pines swing like curtains in the moonlight;
the moonlight swings like a drunk man on a ship.
Search for the place the jewels are hidden, a.k.a.
the dark-furred hollow. Search for the mirror
in the old oak. Search for The Stag Who Can Speak
to Girls Like You (his voice, the stories say, is like a river—
low, and full of deaths it can’t help). Small animals
will serrate the silence with their chatter. Underfoot,
roots will crack like bones. Wear your hair uncovered.
Wear your mouth unset. You may not find
the jewels, the mirror, the stag. But you may find
a bare possum skull. You may find some eyeteeth
in a damp log. You may find a berry patch, but
with bullets in place of berries, silver sparks
in the nightgleam. Put all these things into your pockets
and keep walking. The grackles will tell you
This way out, this way out. Don’t answer. Don’t be turned.
You entered the woods lost. Leave that way.
Catherine Pierce's third book, The Tornado Is the World, is forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in December; her other books are The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia 2012) and Famous Last Words (Saturnalia 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry (2015 and 2011), Boston Review, Ploughshares, Field, and elsewhere. She co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.