The Acoustics of Dissenters
by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman

To Erin Kathleen Bahl

“If an innocent maiden came within her magic circle, she would change her into a bird and stuff her into a wicker basket. Then she would carry the basket up to a room in her castle where she had well over seven thousand baskets with rare birds of this kind.” – “Jorinda and Joringel,” Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Jack Zipes

We sing of twilight, sunset, dawn
Of larkspur, stars, and rust.
Of lovers lost and found again
Of miller’s sons, of trust.

We sing of cages and the doors
That pierce their brindled centers,
Of metal spark and wicker hum,
The acoustics of dissenters.

We sing of witches, owls, cats,
The wardens of our jail,
We see the thorns hooked in their hearts,
How old they grow, and pale.

We sing of talon, claw, and key,
The sound of wind and wing,
Of blood-red flowers that unfold
Like young hearts in the spring. 


Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman are award-winning folklorists, teachers, and writers. Together, they founded The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, teaching creative souls how to re-enchant their lives through folklore and fairy tales. Their fiction and poetry can be found in Enchanted Living, Uncanny Magazine, Apex Magazine, Liminality, Star*Line, and others.