The Step-Widow

Leaves limp. Shade
falls. Spells spin cocoons
to cricket tunes she holds in thrall.
The bent necks of shattered gourds
bloom mold and worms
fester in sour apple cores.

Amidst this mottle, Her many-eyed skull
stumbles on a hoard while scrounging:
bell jars boast pickled hearts and livers,
peeled skins and intestines
stretch in warped frames
leaned on easels.
Encrypted potion recipes
pour curses from Ziplocks’ pursed lips,
crawling up her legs as leaches and ticks.
Dusk bats bleeding out of echoed caves
weave the moon phase, clouds, and Milky Way
into a winter-colored thread
she tightropes through the sky.
Briers wind around to drag her down.
Starving wolf cubs pounce from mesas
missing by inches.

But her burlap of eggs sturdies the wire
while the hourglass branded on her back
slakes off in chaff and sand
wind feeds to the stars
which fall as frost. Her footing
lost, her mind drifts
to Elysian fields
splattered in blood,
kiting over cactus barbs and snow drifts
until her vision finally desists.

Planets of mothballs
strung as pearls along her journey’s length
we harbor in heirloom chests,
trying our best to treasure,
yet at the thought of them
around a child’s neck,
the heart shudders.