M. Ann Hull-Once – the Corn Husk Dolls Had Faces

 

This is why Autumn never
smells like rain: The kids lit
the cornfield on fire to hear
kernels unstopping themselves
like corks. The kids had popped
something in their brains, red.
Little. Round. Riddles came spilling
from tightly twisted bottles
the color of pumpkins rotting.
The corn husk dolls weren’t lifting
their skirts for fear of their ankles
igniting as they danced. This is why
Autumn doesn’t listen to anyone,
and the crickets crawl back
to their violin-less homes. The kids
were stoned, stoning, stones staring
up at the stars while waiting for ones
to fall on their faces. They felt that
close
. This is why Autumn is lined
with leafy litter and tastes of hollow,
burrowed into, as it were, by worms.
With the corn husk hems already
curling in flame, the dolls had fallen,
like snow, in love with Their Own.
Kids just can’t stay young enough
to keep their skins from becoming
sweaters thrown over bones. This is
why the dolls eventually won’t look
themselves in the husks any more
than a potato can eye the teeth
that will sink it or why an ear
of corn shuts up what it might
have heard the kids whisper behind
a flimsy curtain of silk that’ll burn.