Friday 3 June 2022

Five Poems by Deborah Purdy


Beauty Lies 


Deep in the skin and among sisters

scars are stones tossed back

and forth like petals tracked

on the path to misunderstandings.


You probably don’t know

the truth about us. She wasn’t

really our sister but we

treated her like one.


You’ve heard we put toads

in her pockets, slipped salt into her cereal,

and pulled her hair whenever we felt like it.

What makes you think this is true?


We loved her like our own blood.

Gave her first choice of gilt chains

and pearls from her mother’s trinket

box. Served her first at suppertime.


We cherished even her name

ringing like a bell on our tongues.

We were happy with bread and tea

and the smile on our father’s face,


but she wanted roses and we’re the ones

remembered as thorns.



In the Cards


Call it a mirage

but the moon calls the shots.

The mirror, an accomplice,

reaches into a cup of faith.


I’m a fool for secrets

but don’t tell me the truth.

I’ll show you the pentacle of roots

and spread berries to retrieve dreams.


It’s what you see

when you want to believe,

looking for love in alternate places,

blind and likely to bleed on the sword of endings.


Towers transform into magic wands

and you’d like to twist your own fate,

hang onto the card lost in the shuffle,

an omen to hold over your head.



The Wolf at the Door


leaves love notes with roses,

bouquets of objections, secrets

skimmed from thorns

of picket fences.

An artificial Lothario in white wool

winks through the keyhole,

makes you almost believe

in the editorials of ravens.



The Emperor’s Dress


The emperor wants to wear a red dress —

A stiff bloodline of starch and pith

with pockets for her phone and keys,

a long straight lace to hide behind.

She wants matching shoes to stomp

and tramp, to play peekaboo

with her hand of cards, crack the curse,

and hold the world in her arms

like a basket of laundry.



Nine Worlds


Imagine nine kingdoms in a tree

of the world —


wilderness and heavens

in roots and branches —


underground pedigrees of common aspirations,

stems rendered as universes that pulse


into homelands  — giants and ice,

fire and elves, dwarfs


and recollections of the dead.

Humanity is a visible thread


in the cloth of destiny —

the mystery of feline lives,


nine tribes, nights, daughters,

fistfuls of questions shuffled and spread


like confetti in a sky of answers.

Luck is a landmine on the path


to the holy grail of anticipation,

victim to shapes and states of foliage.

Deborah Purdy is the author of Mermaids in the Basement (dancing girl press) and Conjuring an Epiphany (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Gingerbread House, Mom Egg Review, Black Bough Poetry, and other publications.


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