Corn Poppets

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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.