Thursday, August 15, 2013

Study In Orphans 3

Greetings Garden Dwellers,

Fireblossom and Izy are here with our sweltering summer addition to the toad collaborations. Now that the summer months have dragged their miserable face across the weeks, we have no choice but to drop this poem on your door step and run off into the woods.  Attached is an urgently scrawled note too sweaty to read.  We hope you can give this piece some warm milk and a comfy bed.  Enjoy....  

When spring comes to St.Alban’s Home for Girls, 
they take the axe from the stump,
and the heavy volumes down from the attic.
Situated on a hillside, at St. Alban’s it is hard to find one's balance.
The teachers will tell you
"a girl on her own is as smoke from the fire--
steam from the kettle--
gone soon enough and little missed."

In Enid Grace's night shirt pocket,
she keeps a scrap of paper
as old as herself.
She folds and unfolds it,
as if this act could level sloping St. Alban’s,
and change the urgently scrawled words:
"Baby girl.  Please keep
until old enough for the workhouse."

St. A.’s, unbalanced landing place
for crow-girls who drop from stricken branches,
girls taught and tethered by wingless women carrying bibles in one hand
and madness in the other--
Wind will always call a crow-girl,
there is no verse to counter that.
When the branch breaks, and there is nothing but air to dance upon,
another chapter will write itself, more holy than the first.

The moment she arrived at St. Alban’s,
Enid Grace started to plan her escape.
One day, she imagined,
she would ride away on a motorbike
while the other girls cheered her on.
She was far too alive for the ghosts
who sat in the shadows
and licked the paste from the wallpaper.
Sarah, her friend, her match, her second wing,
said the ghosts spoke to her,
said they whispered in riddles
and nibbled on her toes.

What would you have done?
Confess it, you'd have done as these girls did--
Enid Grace and Sarah drawing pentagrams on the splintery wooden floor.
What of the cough that made the rounds of the staff?
What of the handyman with his Indian motorcycle and his wrong smile?
What of the the miles ahead and the miles behind?
The girls laid out the cards and asked their questions--

Their answers came from the walls
in faint screeches and tongue lashes
that tickled their knees.
Enid Grace did not understand any of it,
but Sarah’s good ear and Gypsy’s memory
allowed her to translate:
avoid the woods at night
and the handyman--a few girls
already in the ground could tell of his deeds.
Sister Marney and Sister Francis were short for this world
their cough a signal of drowning lungs.
And the miles ahead....

Sarah grabbed Enid Grace’s hands,
flashing a smile so sweet and sad,
she wanted to cry without hearing a single word.
“A fat baby for you,” Sarah said.
“No, two fat babies.
And a husband who washes the dishes.
And an icebox filled with hamburger and cola.”

“And what about you?” Enid Grace asked.
Sarah shook her head, held her finger to her lips,
and said,“A crow-girl never spoils a good fortune 
with her own news.”


Kay L. Davies said...

Fireblossom and Izy, what a confabulation of a collaboration...put two brilliant minds together and they will proceed as one.
Whether you alternated writing one word each, one phrase each, one line each, or one stanza each, it matters not. You have achieved one voice with which to tell your story.
Brava, my beauties, brava!

Unknown said...

If I had written this whether by myself or in collaboration, there are some who would swear they know who and what and why I would have been writing about, so close a mirror it is to a story I could have told. Which for me became a little difficult because of how well you told and wrote it, down to the chills and the smiles and the tears it gave me. Excellent.

Fireblossom said...

Working with Izy on this was a really cool experience. Our first impulse was to write a haiku about unicorns, but we got bolted away with. ;-)

Susan said...

The title sets up a longer saga, which I would look forward to too. I am hooked. I like Sarah Crow Girl best and that flirty/haunting last line.

Maude Lynn said...

Simply splendid!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Oh my! What a story within a poem within a world of struggle for those marginalized by society. I love that your girls got redemption, or the promise of redemption, and used their wit and art to escape the confines of St Albans. The whole idea is so fully formed, I can't help thinking it is plots like these which find themselves on our bookshelves by and by.

Marian said...

warm milk and a comfy bed? okay, i'll save it for bedtime. :)

Hannah said...

Wonderful!! Congrats you two and thank you!

Anonymous said...

I just saw "Magdelene Sisters," so this poem resonated for me in so many ways. You two are a lethal combination, you know that. And that GOD no haiku about unicorns, heh heh.

This was gothic, gritty, steeped in truth, and yet the crow girl who never reads her own fortune... a unique touch.


Ella said...

I love all the boundaries you left us in your poem! I want to be a crow girl ;D

YOU two were meant to write this poem~ I think it would be a fabulous short story! Thanks for giving us goth wings to glide on~

Lolamouse said...

You two did not disappoint! Your voices blended together perfectly! I love St. Alban's stories, and this one was chock full of mystery, power, and beauty. The photo is perfect, and so is the song (I've got it on now!)

Helen said...

... 'wind will always call a
crow-girl' ~~ the wind is blowing mighty fierce this morning. Huge WOWs to both poets +++ music is a great addition to the vibe.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

If you turned this into a book, it would be a best seller. Absolutely stellar writing. Just brilliant!

Siggi in Downeast Maine said...

Excellent ! Enjoyed the comments from others and agree...awesome write/collaboration ... thank you.

hedgewitch said...

Completely devastating imagery-- nuns whose lungs can only fill with water, the lurking feel of the workhouse and handyman looming over the innocence of children born to be disabused of all innocence, yet keeping the spells for survival deep within--just a fantastic collaboration, ladies, as was only to be expected with you two.

Susie Clevenger said...

What a fantastic collaboration. It weaves such a dark tale. It leaves me wanting more. I really think this could become a book.

Margaret said...

So eerie and creepy, yet somehow the girls hang on to a thin thread of hope... I have NO idea who wrote what - it all has similar language and molds the same image. I wonder how long this took as it is quite lengthy - If I had to ponder this for too long, I think I would have a few sleepless nights!

Grace said...

Very creative plot ~ Thanks to both of you ~ A lovely collaboration ~

Marian said...

this is terrific, and i love the ending. watch out for that handyman! said...

what a beautiful blog!phyllis

grapeling said...

Elemental, spooky, fantastic.