by Nikki Zielinski
Once upon a rosebush, her body
snared in thorns.
How have I come to be trapped here? Whose curse have I aroused?
It was I, said the fallen willow,
stiff & dry as a bone.
Because I carved my name in your flesh?, she asked & it nodded.
It was I, said a heap of torn feathers—
a robin she had loved.
Because I fed the cat that hunted you? she asked, the feathers fluttering, Yes.
And we, sang the bees as crows swooped down
to pluck them from the dirt.
Because I started the fire that stunned you? she asked, but none were left to say.
What became of her then, no one knows, & now
little trace of her tale can be found:
Severed wings. Scattered down. Broken bough.
NIKKI ZIELINSKI‘s poems appear in the Cincinnati Review, Meridian, Southern Humanities Review, Sou’Wester, Vinyl, PANK, and elsewhere. Since completing her MFA at the University of Oregon, she has received prizes and fellowships from Djerassi, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, Bridport Arts Centre, and Sitka Center, among others. A 2014 recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, she lives in Cleveland.