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Woman with Coiled Braids

by Madeline Defrees

They blamed a horse for the scar we could only guess
at night small and shaking,
trying in our beds
to part those lengths of hair
and peer into her secret.

In our dry hours the shining green of oaks
declared the woman safe
who knew that far sweet rumors
slept their tides
through spirals at each ear.

Silk came to a rippling end when she unbound it.
We saw her huntress-robed
to net the moon,
the snare blown back
to show her perfect body.

The disc fell heavy as a hoof on pillowed clouds
her head supported.
We watched the crater fill
with the nightly grief of that wavering image
at the bottom of the well.

Nothing we understood would lift her streaming hair
our vision kissed awake.
The ghost came back
to swing from gloomy braids in the very tree
where sun had played our games.

A noose around the throat of strangled leaves
pale bones tossed up
on beaches of the sky. Kelp trailed the kite
we dreamed frail as paper
the ribboned sunlight bounced again.


A second collection of poems by Madeline Defrees is due in the spring by Brazilier. She will read at the New York Poetry Center in April. (Spring 1975)

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