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Throwback Thursday: Wind Spell, by Kristen Baum DeBeasi

Wind Spell  

—after Joy Harjo 

In the time before, it was never written down


No pens. A long line of mouths. A wolfman hovers 

beyond the tree line, taste of flesh on his tongue. 

A basket over a girl’s arm, crumbs fallen. 


The predator prowls the woods, 

the path, the outlying cottages. He eats 

every unfortunate passerby. What he cannot eat, 

he saves for later. He makes wine. Jars flesh. Waits. 


Rumors run like pigs. Like school children. 

Like a mother’s butterfly stomach, weighted 

for the wind’s howl. Like shortcuts loafing

toward full moon twilights. Like a basket 

inside a cottage door. A dandelion seed purchased

where there is no wind spell for wishes to float free. 


Wait! Not this once. Instead, try 

Once there was  


a woods that was only a woods. 

The village folk used to go birding, 

speak to owls, hear the throaty croak of ravens, 

listen for the songs of a nightingale. 


They had lived together, cooked together, 

whispering rumors of red sky mornings. 

They had tried to pretend a wolfman hadn’t moved in, 

grandmother’s cottage was under construction 

and the disappeared had left only damp shadows soaked into paths. 


But once again

Once upon another time


Memory failed and the forest shadows grew larger

and toothier with eyes sharp enough to see in the dark— 

the fallen fabric of a daughter’s red hood, the ribbon, 

the sash, a walking shoe wilting beside the path of pins 

the basket lined with cloth for protecting cakes 


Start with a different once! 

Once, after a lifetime lived inside the village walls 


grandmother had moved, longing 

for the seclusion of the forest. Trusting 

her granddaughter would come, she had left

the cottage door unlatched, curled up 

in her nightgown, recalling memories of trips made 

when she had been a girl. Choosing her path. Before 


If the girl in the red hood starts here 

she’ll never make it to the end of her story. 


Someone has to keep her eyes open, sings her grandmother 

to the day, to the night, to the wind spell

that can carry dandelion wishes to far-off places 

where it can seed into the heart’s loam 

and take root even as the girl walks 

the path of pins or that of needles. 


It would not matter. For even if grandmother was eaten, 

the girl would have the sense to escape. And she would 

find helpers along her journey home. 


Yes. Once upon this story. 


Bio: Kristen Baum DeBeasi’s poetry has appeared in Blue Heron Review, Contrary Magazine, Menacing Hedge and elsewhere. She was Moon Tide Press’s Poet of the Month for July 2021. When she isn’t writing words or music, she loves testing new recipes and collecting fallen leaves or twigs for her fairy garden.


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