Folklore     pg. 2650     Folklore

Begin with the equation: wood = bone. If bone,

a rib splintered, branch in fragments. Fabricate

from these pieces, the parts for a miniature ship

—delicately assemble her through the narrow neck

of an oblong bottle (if glass, then skin) to be corked

 

and kept. From bone, bone; skin, skin.

This is the beginning, so it goes in certain versions.

Others have a different first. The one forgotten

abandons the expected narrative, replaces, yes, yes,

with southern storms and thunder claps,

 

holds the desire to determine the fate of all things

in fingers closed to palm. In the earth beneath

a willow tree, she plants the handle of a broom.

In a decade’s span, attempts to harvest—

finds a serpent in the crop and… forgive us

 

our trespasses, those who trespass against us, lead us…

All those s’es. The sound of the snake with second sight

and the skill to see through reflections. A convicted spy,

seductive. Amsterdam, Shanghai—follow her

from a kiss in the aquarium to a climatic shootout

 

in the Magic Mirror Maze, take images in shards

—“With these mirrors, it’s difficult to tell…”—

replace with even more deceptive ones

—“You are aiming at me…”—

on to the next and on—“…aren’t you?”

 

Does he need to ask? He’s her target; she’s his.

The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection

i r) an infinite loop: looking glass inside looking glass,

repeated from this point to the next morning.

“Put on some lipstick and dumb yourself down,”

 

he says. The sound of gunpowder exploding in the chamber

of a small room: her deafening response.

A spider web of glass, shattering. The impact of bullet

on his reflection, on hers. Killing me is killing you.

Me killing you is the reason the sun will rise, my love.

Dina Hardy, author of the limited-edition chapbook Selections from The World Book (Convulsive Editions, 2012), has received a Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including Agni, Black Warrior Review, Lo-Ball, Transom, and Meridian’s Best New Poets.