Fitcher’s Bird Sestina
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.