Diane DeCillis


     The legend of tatterdemalion: a child banished to live in the woods,
     who will make you love him only to steal your health.

Because the forest is not made of light,
and the rhythmic procession
of twigs snapping is enough
to sound like life is breaking—

the feral child appeals to your sense
of hunger and begs for sweetness,
the dupe of swapping your candy
for his salt. And before you know it,

he invites you to his woodlands
to show you how soil provides
the roots with anchorage,
which you take as a wish for connection

until the eye sees through the child,
witnesses the flowering of decay
as you gaze at your reflection in a still pond,

the spectacle of your red hair turning gray,
a tree in autumn shedding every last leaf,
its barren arms forever open.

Diane DeCillis

is the author of Strings Attached (Wayne State University Press), which was honored as a Michigan Notable Book for 2015 and won the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award for poetry. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcart prizes and Best American Poetry, and her work has appeared recently in Adirondack Review, Columbia Journal, Minnesota Review, Mizna, and other journals.