Sarah Fawn Montgomery

White Witch as a Young Girl

Thick like molasses—Watch out
for your weight chorus
the church ladies, little girls
not allowed delight
from Turkey or elsewhere.
Don’t brown in the sun.
The burden of Savannah
in summer is air full of itself,
gnats like snowfall.

Envy your golden cat
stretched large like a lion.
He is ruler of the porch,
snatching men and mice
in his jaws, revered anyway.
You want to snap the necks
of girls who point
at patches of sweat under
your aching, growing breasts,
glinting like ice on your upper lip.

You wish them to stone
but it is your heart instead.
Escape the heat in your closet,
make a new world of darkness,
though there’s still the rustle
of shirts too small, too pale
against your darkening skin,
soft like your stomach, thighs,
eyes welling up. Close the door.


Bones Beneath Your Bed

Sleep with bones beneath your bed
to dream beyond the cage of the body.

Heap stones by threes at your feet
to change your life’s direction.

A feather recants, draws to your lips
what it is you have forgotten.

Palm sand for mettle; grit teeth for luck.

A pea does not work beneath a mattress—
best to use a whipping stick.

Sleep with one palm open.

Lavender oil deepens breathing; camphor
moves the blood; henbane stops a heart.

Wrap a thread around a wrist to recall; twice around
a finger for love; if necessary, the head of a wax doll.

Leap once without looking.

Cull enemies by blotting out the stars,
snuffing your bedside candle with wet fingertips.


Sarah Fawn Montgomery is the author of Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir, (The Ohio State University Press, 2018) and three poetry chapbooks, Regenerate: Poems from Mad Women (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and The Astronaut Checks His Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her work has been listed as notable several times in Best American Essays, and her poetry and prose have appeared in various magazines including Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Fugue, The Los Angeles Review, The Normal School, North Dakota Quarterly, Passages North, The Pinch, Puerto del Sol, The Rumpus, Southeast Review, Terrain and others. She has worked as Prairie Schooner’s Nonfiction Assistant Editor since 2011 and is an Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University. Her favorite sweets are shortbread and dark chocolate, preferably combined. Visit her on twitter @SF_Montgomery

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