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Taylor, Bruce (ed.) / Wisconsin poetry (special issue)
volume 79, No. 2

Shaw, Janet
"The handless maiden," "Jacob wrestles with the angel: an update," and "The wolf in my mother",   pp. 176-179 PDF (682.1 KB)


Page 176

Janet Shaw
The Handless Maiden
Once there was a miller who wished
to marry his daughter to the Devil
in exchange for gold. When she
refused, her father cut off her
hands.....
Suddenly the house had no doors.
I cried Daddy! Daddy! to stop him
but the pain came down
and my hands fell onto the floor
in front of me like kittens,
fingers curled around my thumbs,
hiding my thumbs.
I wanted to pick up my hands
in my teeth and carry them away
to a nest, but there wasn't time.
I ran and then I crawled,
turning back to lick up the blood trace
so he couldn't find my trail.
The forest closed behind me,
branches locked like arms guarding,
an insignia of sun on the pines.
That night I lay next to a fallen log
as though it were my mother.
My dream tasted of metal.
When I woke in the wet leaves
I knew it was not a dream.
176


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