In An Absence of Light
poems by Amanda Crum
In An Absence Of Light
Those roots won’t stay put / dancing in a bog the color of tea
She gathers what she needs / in an absence of light
In a darkness so deep / it bears a clutch of moths
That will never find their way / to a golden flicker
Peppermint and Willow
Those willow trees
in the nightwind,
reminding her of everything she’s missed.
Once she dreamed of children to run through the grasses,
small fingers twining themselves in her hair for comfort;
now she can only think of ways to make her empty days sweeter.
She fills the candy dishes with peppermints,
lines up gumdrops on the windowsill
to draw some company. When the crows come
she listens to them fret and wonders
when it became autumn. The days are apricot-colored
and darken swiftly,
all the more reason to leave trails of chocolate
in the woods. Just in case, she reminds herself,
just in case a child should become lost
on their way to solace.
Each day when the sun lowers itself to the horizon
like a lady in a bathtub,
she counts out sweets in a dotted line
on the dirt road.
Each night when the tree branches rattle
against the moon,
she folds her cloak against withered bosom
and pretends it holds an infant.
She is starved, but she refuses to touch
the candy; hers is a different sort of hunger.
She keeps the fires stoked,
warming the evenings with a gingerbread glow,
the tingling in the tips of her fingers
a warning that company is coming soon
and she will be hungry no more.
Bramble and Thorn
Her hair is bramble and thorn,
fingertips stained pomegranate.
She keeps her neck clean;
all else is proffered to the gods.
When the wind wakes the trees
she stokes the fires against the night,
weaves lavender around her wrist.
Protection is always so hard to come by
and never lasts as long as she wants.
She carves her pain into a tree,
hieroglyphs that cast into the future
and warn all men of her fury.
And when they abandon their ships
and come out searching
she will stretch a pale arm
through the trees
and stroke their tender necks,
a cautionary tale
come to life.
Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work can be found in publications such as Eastern Iowa Review, Blue Moon Literary and Art Review, and Barren Magazine, as well as in several anthologies. Her first chapbook of horror poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow, made the shortlist for a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2015; her latest, Trailer Trash, will be published by Finishing Line Press in early 2019. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.