Monday, November 21, 2011


Farm Girls*

We knew how to keep warm.

We pulled the dog across our laps,
his hair matted with cockle burrs and seed heads,
stinking of carrion and cow pies.
In winter wind, we laid on shaggy horses
in open fields and pressed our backs
against the south side of tree trunks.
We crouched with our knees in our jackets
and our hands in our sleeves, we sought shelter
in machine sheds and chicken coops and haylofts
until called to supper.

I remember the creek
and the swallows’ mud nests under the bridge
and black knots of hair on willows
and the tracks of animals into cloudy water.

She remembers only the apple trees,
how they faced the road,
how their white blossoms,
sharp as wings,
churned blue sky that smelled of broken earth,
and the fruit that, even when ripe,
tasted green.

We were children
who wrote on rocks
with rocks,
who wrote on wood
with ashes;
we built houses of sticks and mud,
scolded by blackbirds,
as our father scratched a line
on the edge of the world.

*Originally published in the 2011 Rethink Topeka Chapbook.


There is a cup on my desk
in front of the picture of me kissing my husband
on our wedding day; the cup is filled with pencils
and sharpies and an xacto knife,
my husband clasps his hands
in the small of my back,
pressing my hips against him,
but I am looking over his shoulder.
On the cup on my desk
there is a chrysanthemum
with cross hatching
where petals converge and attach,
an approximation of shadow.

The dog sleeps on the bed, all black
except her pink tongue sticking out.
She is a kind of hole, except for her tongue.
She must be having a sweet dream,
a dream without hunters or prey,
not even a rabbit,
maybe only a spot of sun
and the absolute absence
of all hunger.

About C. Malcolm Ellsworth:
C. Malcolm Ellsworth has a BA in English and an MFA in art from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared (or soon will appear) in The Flint Hills Review, Scissors and Spackle, Blue Island Review, Stone Highway Review, Everyday Other Things, and The Christian Science Monitor. She posts erratically at

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