Eating Crow

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
First Place, November 2011
Judged by Nathalie Handal

After Reading Ted Hughes

A Devon autumn chases ghosts down alleys, Shura
should have been our lost baby, the one flowering

from the toilet the day you crumpled your face, pasty-
white like the old hive, resurrected with blue-heart eyes.

I was Prospero. I was Caliban. I was the filthy-nailed
stand in for Daddy. Already, my tongue bled lies, my dick—

thick with honey, my vows of wild-escape. It was I who
bought you your Taroc pack. I, who taught you the plays

of Shakespeare, you only knew three before we met. That holy
number, that trinity of failed marriage—three meant

a witch has entered the sky. You invited her in, you dreamt
her real and she appeared, asleep like a princess-hag

in a pike’s drunken eye. The wild earth wanted you back,
with all its cunning fox-holes, its voices lulling you to sleep

under the deep sighs of the house. A weasel-gypsy caught
you with her icicle fingers, calling you out of our sweet honey

moon sleep. She declared you dead: borrowed entirely by me,
not quite blue. Sycorax lured you to her brothy-bridal

cauldron. Still you finished each poem, each postcard.
You filled each terracotta pot with earth and all your favorite

flowers. But it is Shura who makes her silent howl
while the moon fills, plump with its leaking mother’s milk.

It is Shura who grasps her rag-button dolls, clutching
them to her chest like a crone-woman suckling a dead baby.

Hypnotic. Yet it is death that lingers here. Death roams life. And life the corridors of a small hell. And pain is a poem you have to finish. But this poem will never finish – its breaths endless in our minds. --Nathalie Handal