they’re already hanging witch dolls from the eaves and the ledges of the homes in Salem
and from the windows of shops where I buy local goods: waxy combs, balms, and a small owl
candle with a long wick. A dragonfly leads me past a hedgerow of autumn olives. August
yields her sun low, lower, lower each day. I curve into the fall, lick the parts that hurt
most, my wounded willow bark, my animal skin. Last night, in a dream, this: I cradled a corn cob doll to me,
urged it to nurse the nothing that’s left, became less sad, less of a conduit. Can I deconstruct an asexual life
and call this home? Can I not allow touch and still love? Come morning, I pondered the exclusion
of queen bees in fall. My hair was a willow nest of cold blue eggs and I could smell the wine from the small
apples that fell, rotten and bruised, to the ground below my window. All night, I’d simmered on low
shimmery citrus rinds-- a tea I could drink, a balm boiled down. Come, mourning, take
the inch of light: orbit wider farther away. My back arcs into place. Out back, tomatoes choke, thick on their vines. At last,
the pepper plants have turned deep purple. Fall curves here, a pelted thing, amber. You have to see it, the light.
-- Jennifer Martelli is the author of The Queen of Queens and My Tarantella, named a “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, The Tahoma Review, and elsewhere. She is a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow and co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.