Sweet Clover

When the spell called for a lock of my hair,
I gave my whole head.
I think, maybe, that’s always been my problem;
why my mother bound my hands in ribbon
to stop me from bleeding
because I would’ve kept on going.
They don’t need everything, she told me.
A pinprick will do – just a drop.
But I always gave away too much
and ruined it.
When I was younger, I tried to conjure a flower
and filled the whole house with sweet clover
so fragrant it called the bees.
I can still remember how they stung me,
drunk on pollen and promises of more.
But my mother only laughed, wiping my cheeks,
and said, See, it’s not so bad;
now it smells like summer.

It’s true, the women in my family often suffer this curse;
my mother’s sister had it worse
and tried to use her own heart
as part of a love spell.
Some nights I can still see her dagger in my hands,
piercing the flesh and peeling back –
but what would be left?
My chest is always empty in these dreams.
I understand why mother does it
– why she worries –
why she binds my hands.
I can’t be trusted.
I’m all and then I’m nothing.
And she doesn’t want the scent of sweet clover
to linger in her sleep.


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