Emily Rose Cole — “The Witch of the West Knits Feather and Bone”

I found him trembling at the base of a mountain,
blown in, as so many things are, on a storm.

He purled his fingers over the bough-bend of neck,
fur jeweled with rain, crimped face snugged under my chin.

I wanted to give him roots, to rid him
of those useless hands that couldn’t hold the earth.

I wanted to join his marrow to a tree’s silvering bark
so his blood would know the sap-taste of home.

I followed the spell to the letter: pentacles
of salt and sagebrush, the monkey’s tail thick
in my fingers, blessed neck of a sapling birch
broken over my knee, the round mouth
of midnight bellowing at our doubled backs.

Maybe the moon was wrong, or the catch
of the wind. Somehow, a furred spine split

with feathers. Somehow, an ape
with the eyes of a crow. My mistake
the opposite of a taproot. I feel it

still, like a lesson scraped
into the nut of my skull,

how that first winged pulse hissed
no place, no place, no place.

Emily Rose Cole is the author of a chapbook, Love & a Loaded Gun, from Minerva Rising Press. Her poetry has appeared in Nimrod, The Pinch, and Southern Indiana Review, among others. She is a PhD student studying poetry and disability studies at the University of Cincinnati. Reach her at emilyrosecolepoetry.com.