Fitcher’s Bird Sestina

Allyson Shaw

One day that old rag and bone

man came for me, his eyes

bent on wooing. Like my sister

before me, I went away from Mother,

cows, hen house, and the endless eggs

to be gathered, to a bare bridal chamber.

His brown eyes each a chamber

unkempt, reflecting my flesh and bone.

i would find her, her eggs

unbroken. I only have eyes

for you, he sang.  Untrue! Mother 

warned of such charms. My sister

didn’t listen. I found my sister

while he was away. In the chamber

farthest she lay, undone of mother-

maker, all bits and bone

now, hair flung, eyes

asunder, belly up. Eggs

spilt. I bundled her eggs, 

assembled my sister

piece by piece, eyes

in last. Marked in chamber

dark, she stood. Alive. bone-

bland I was when he returned. Mother

taught me deceiving. Mother

calls them girl-pearls, our eggs.

I show him mine and a ring of bone

he gives me, the ring my sister

wore. Innocent of the chamber

he thinks me, but sister’s eyes

see again. I look in his eyes.

There’s a deal to be made, Mother

would say. Take this chamber

of my heart and bring a basket of eggs 

and gold to mother (a sister-

laden basket!) for this ring of bone.

I make another sister of flower-decked bone 

While he’s gone to Mother. I’m off, coated with petals and eggs

while my twin watches from the chamber with daisy eyes. 


Allyson Shaw lives in Northeast Scotland.  She has recently finished writing a book length work of narrative nonfiction about the witch in the Scottish landscape, Ashes and Stones, which will be published in 2023.