I knew the little girl selling
matchbooks, watched her
curl up in a doorway as her light
went out. She smiled at the night,
at the stars, at the fizzled
matches at her feet.
I stole the little match girl’s
body, trundled it away.
She, cold and small in my arms,
like the stiff bodies of crows
I find sometimes on my doorstep
landed in hopes of reanimation,
in hopes that some witch’s errand
could keep their wings beating. I use them
gladly. Bird-spirits prove always
the hardiest, the slowest to die.
At my hearth, I set the anchor:
the little girl-body, wrapped in red
and crowned with a circlet of amaranth.
The crows hiss and shuffle, impatient,
ready for the hounding and herding
of a rosy soul. When they return
in their flurry of black, I will soothe the little
match girl, show her the fragile thing
she was—brittle, sweet—
and teach her the rancorous fire
that she will become.
Kelsey Dean’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of literary publications, such as Liminal, concis, Cicada, and Spark Anthology. Her YA story “Starfishing” is available on audible.com.