He appeared one day to show me how to speak.
Made of straw stuffed into old clothes,
he is a door standing open. Each day the light
or the darkness finds its way through him.
We practice a kind of ventriloquy. His work
not crows or corn but sorrows, he is a placeholder
for grief, for the boy who was never quite right,
for the twins who wandered off, for the infant
who never took a second breath, her mother
gazing always over the heads of the living
toward the vanishing green rows and the scarecrow,
who says nothing but comprehends the unspoken
persistence of loss. Between honesty and imagination,
between despair and desire, the scarecrow watches,
arms wide, pointing this way and that to embrace
the summer heat and the fallen stalks, the hope
and the disappointment, the familiar and the unknown.
He lives deep within the matryoshka of my dreams,
where I am a shadow looking for a body,
an echo waiting for a voice.
J.I. Kleinberg is artist, poet, freelance writer, and co-editor of 56 Days of August (Five Oaks Press 2017) and Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington (Other Mind Press, 2015). A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her poetry has appeared in One, Diagram, Otoliths, Raven Chronicles, Psaltery & Lyre, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, and blogs most days at chocolateisaverb.wordpress.com and thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com.
Art: Untitled, digital illustration on photograph, 2019
Artist Statement: I love the melancholy of both pieces and the way the empty space of the art seems to echo the poem, “a door standing open,” “a shadow searching for a body.