The Clearing

What if this time instead of crumbs the girl drops

teeth, her own, what else does she have, and the prince

or woodcutter or brother or man musty with beard and

thick in the pants collects the teeth with a wide rustic hand

holds their gray roots to a nostril to smell the fresh

feminine rot, fingers the bony stems of her

fear, born of watered-down broths, of motherlessness,

of an owl’s sharp beak crooking back around into itself?

The wolf licks his parts with a sandpaper tongue

and just like that we’ve got ourselves a familiar victim.

It is written: the world’s fluids shall rush into a single birch

tree and there’s the girl, lying in a clearing we’ve never seen

but know is ours. Undergrowth rattles like the shank

of a loose pen. We’ll write this story again and again,

how her mouth blooms to its raw venous throat—that tunnel

of marbled wetness, beefy, muted, new, pillow for our star

sapphire, our sluggish prospecting—and how dark birds come

after, to dress the wounds, no, to peck her sockets clean.


Allison Adair’s poems appear or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, Boston Review, Greensboro Review, Mid-American Review, Missouri Review (Poem of the Week), and Ninth Letter, among other journals. Winner of the Orlando Prize and the Fineline Competition, Adair teaches at Boston College and Grub Street.


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