Amelie’s Song – by Ken Meisel


For Anita

When the birds invaded the wild parsnip
    and rot carved black smudges
        like a cancer in the Queen Anne’s lace,

and when the dame’s rocket and yellow iris
    were flooded by a sudden storm squall
        that flatted them down like royal princesses

in ruined dresses, she wandered down
    into the lonesome motherwort
        to gather the whorls of white flowers

into her broken little arms for the funeral.
    And when the sweet clover and garlic mustard
        grew heavenward in the dry sun,

she knelt there at the edge of the pond,
    waiting for a bird she had heard
        calling out to the wind to come back down again

to her, so she could hear it sing. And when night fell,
    when she knew her mother would never
        return – because death had flooded her

just like bad blood floods the eyes of an animal
    just before it crawls off and it dies –
        she wandered to the open edge of the bog

where the nodding ladies’ tresses grew wild there
    in their décor of white flowers spiraling up thin
        adolescent bodies getting ready for their

autumn dancing: and then she laced them –
    one-by-one – to the sides of her head,
        where she flowered them there in her braids

for the next joyful dancing – and for all the dances
    that followed, all the years after that.
        And, at her wedding, she wore a pink

lady’s-slipper, and trails of purple fringed orchids
    fell behind her wedding gown as she
        strode down the aisle there, into the sun.




Ken Meisel is a 2012 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow. His recent books are The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door (FutureCycle Press: 2015), and Scrap Metal Mantra Poems (Main Street Rag: 2013). He has work in Rattle, Midwest Gothic, San Pedro River Review, Boxcar Review, Otis Nebula, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others.

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