Catherine E. Bailey is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Western Michigan University. Her creative writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Pomona Valley Review, Line Zero, Femspec, Broad!, Rose Red Review, Scythe, Lingerpost, Poetry South, Bricolage, and other publications. She has also published academic writing on queer female superheroes in Colloquy: Text Theory Critique and various articles and reviews in Yes! Magazine, Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Worldchanging, and Three Percent. A play she wrote, based on interviews with over 50 women, was produced at the University of Rochester's Festival of One-Acts in 2011.
Using the black wand, the kistka,
my father rakes thin rigid scars
on the egg's shut face in beeswax.
The eight-daggered star on its forest
green backdrop sings like a magpie's
tantrum netted in hope. Legends say
that the demon who alights on the
unbroken line will fall captive,
imprisoned as yolk. At five years old
I arch in to observe the exorcism and
a coil from my gold scalp crackles red,
seduced by flame. The lock disintegrates
with the sharp scent of gunpowder
until my father's fingers snap it dead
beside my ear. We stare into each other.
The wax cakes. The dark line holds.
He reports that fragility begets dissolution
except when fragility begets deft explosion.
In this moment our hearts are pulsating
pysanky: beautiful, ephemeral, and
brimming with trapped demons
The eggs, his mother's note scolds,
must not ever be bartered.
They can only be given,
crooked mouthfuls of light.
The Village Remembers
There are very few left
still alive who remember
her glide through the mist
of the pallid summer dunes,
the way her braid swayed
like a devil's pendulum,
a hungry compass needle
pointing everywhere but north.
The sun and the village
were dreaming of progress
as Leena's starfish toes
clung like lightning to the dock.
Only two sisters, the coral
and the orchard, spied
the ring that howled
from the gully of her fist.
They watched it fiercely emptied
to the belly of the green waves,
shouting like an opal star
as moonlight pierced its side.
The village can remember,
since no one else remembers,
the fortitude of buckling,
the salt on Leena's skin.