- Midwife, and: The Hawk-Kite
The woman saves every heart- or wing-shaped rock she finds, studding the mountain
with markers. When the babies don’t breathe,when they arrive frail, small enough
to be cupped in a palm like a bird foundfallen from a nest, their dusky, blue-gray
heads too heavy for their bodies,she nestles them down into the soft earth.
Even when there is little—just pulp,a tuft of hair, once even a tooth, so peculiar—
the earth takes it tenderly. But for the woman,the end comes in blood, nothing even
to bury. She delivers babies to the holywilderness of this mountain but bleeds
her own into cloth—no recognizable shape.The woman can’t even make bones.
Burning her soaked and rusty clothes,she hears a song in fire and farther off
a howl so mournful, it could be human. [End Page 124]
The girl seems to flythe hawk above her, a kite of feathers
and flesh and bones. She doesn’t feelthe invisible string in her hand
but must hold it. When she runs,the hawk-kite sails with her.
When she stands still in the field,he hovers above her, projecting
his shape like a haunting, an overlayof feathers printed on her skin.
Wearing the black lace of another’sshadow all the days of her life
changes her. The girl looks downat her own pale arm and sees wings. [End Page 125]
Maggie Smith’s second book, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo, 2015), won the 2012 Dorset Prize. She is also the author of Lamp of the Body (Red Hen, 2005), winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award, as well as three prizewinning chapbooks. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council, as well as two Academy of American Poets prizes.