Kristen Roach

How to Make a Shroud

Start in the dark   Pick stray linseeds from the cracks in the barn floor   Use your night eyes   Slip them through a hole in a blown egg   Cradle the seed of seeds in its fragile armor porous and pale   Rest it in a mud bowl lined with hay   Plow the fields under measuring the rows by the sunrise of your shadow   Plant on your knees feel the dew soak through   Be sure you smell of earth   Be sure the ground will recognize you when you come back to it   Sow linseeds in the long loam   Pock the field with promise   Cup in your hands what has become of the rabbits the elk the plumage moss bark bees turtles   What has become of the turtles   And the rotten logs on which they sunned themselves   Press the earth over the bodies of the seeds   Crop your hair close scatter your plot with the clippings   Watch for coyotes badgers red-winged blackbirds   Lose track of time

When the blue flowers have bloomed and wept and  the stalks begin to pale pull each plant from the root   Shock the bare flax out in the field for retting   To soil-stain in the sun/rain   For the magnifying dew to dissolve the pectin   Gather it into the barn to dry  Crush the brake down on each stalk splitting   Get your scutching knife   Divide each stalk from itself   Reveal the bast let the shives fall to the ground   Draw each piece through hackling combs making long strands golden gray   Sing as you spin them into strong firm thread   Loom the flax and weave it   Sling the shuttle with great gestures left and right exorcising demons making a wind of linen   Thread a needle for a simple running stitch   Work the needle through the gauze of night   Draw through the white-threaded windows   Watch with embroidery eyes for  the glint of light on the sharp end   Draw through   Draw through   When it is sutured bury it in the dirt like the seed while it waits for the rags of your body   Pock the field with promise   Lose track of time

Kristen Roach writes about earth, air, fire, and water on an acre along the original College Highway between Yale and Smith. Her poetry has most recently been hosted by The Pomegranate London and The Fib Review. You will also find it in issues of Stay Journal and The Louisville Review after the clocks have sprung forward and the peepers have started to sing.

A Song for Kristen

%d bloggers like this: