Times I scuttled near the roots of the rowan,
barking my one lean song. Times I crouched.
Times I crept. How often I waited for nightfall
to become the sound I most feared, the garbled
tongue, music from the mouth of the fox, the bear.
My mouth, blurred with all I had never spoken.
I wept into the grass that turned dark as my wished-for
fur with its tufts scented in sex. How my throat
would cough up its need to the wind as I followed
winter’s trail—its one crooked finger pointing along
the frozen ground, towards the houses and their beds
of nails, towards mothers and their half-starved dreams.
How I slunk to etch my story in the frozen bark.
How it healed itself into the shape of my name.
Meghan Sterling’s work is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Rhino Poetry, Colorado Review, Poetry South, and many others, and has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes. Her debut poetry collection, These Few Seeds (Terrapin Books), came out in 2021 and was a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize in Poetry. Her chapbook, Self-Portrait with Ghosts of the Diaspora (Harbor Editions) her collection, Comfort the Mourners (Everybody Press) and her collection, View from a Borrowed Field, which won Lily Poetry Review’s Paul Nemser Book Prize, are forthcoming in 2023.