Corn Poppets

For an Appalachian kitchen witch

 

The dead come back as braided husk and hair—
cob effigies she wraps in rags and leans
against a bedroom wall so they can hear
her griefs and grievances, their faces clean
without a mouth to make plain how she’s wrong.
But when they start to rot into the floor,
the scraps she’s learned to live with for so long,
the carved-stalk limbs and torsos crushed to flour,
recede, and she’s offended by the loss.
Though she may tell a stone slab she forgives,
or sniff the wadded collar of a blouse,
or glimpse them in the rain, she knows they have
no breath or blood outside the icy stream
of these slips and dreams. Still, she slips, she dreams.

Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Some Problems with Autobiography (Criterion Books, 2023), which won the 2022 New Criterion Prize. New poems and literary criticism appear in Hopkins Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches at Indiana University East.
Brian Brodeur

Author: Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Some Problems with Autobiography (Criterion Books, 2023), which won the 2022 New Criterion Prize. New poems and literary criticism appear in Hopkins Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches at Indiana University East.