Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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back E.B. PAIGE

They May Only Go Where They’re Bid

On my ride I carried no bread in my pocket,
for I had never known these roads to be haunted.

The wet-black cobbles sighed a cold mist, and it coalesced
as a form by the roadside, stile-still and waiting.

Something to spook hounds and horses, something fey
and quick to send me tumbling groundward.

What but witchcraft could unhorse me?
What could knock me lame and blind to all but the sharp lines

of her face, the folds of slate-colored silk
in the dress she wears like a glamour?

I’d already invited her in. There’s something unnatural in a girl
so guileless. By the light of the study’s fire, she is no less strange,

sits on the settee straight-backed, her edges trembling
as if poised to shift from girl into hollow-boned bird.  

She speaks only truth as the fair folk are bid to,
and her honesty is a blade, her voice

a swallowed quiverful of arrows  
aimed at eye and heart, thunking home.  

Years, I've run the globe like a treadmill, always one stride
ahead of summer, all its birds and freedom.

So I send her from the study: Put Adele to bed, I say, and she smiles
a patient splinter-smile and rises as if gravity has no hold.

I was of a mind to be wrenched open. If she’d asked,
I would have sprung to my feet and danced till both ankles broke under me.

Her magic was in having none. She was an unwitting knife, stainless
and unused to flesh. And so I set to stropping.  end  

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