Sandy Longhorn

The Ashes of My Familiar

Another woman kept this room before me,
I am sure. There is a husk of her temper yet

that rides the air. When I breathe in the burnt
remains, a strengthening returns. Rest assured,

we are conjoined in anonymity, although I learned
she died with her eyes open, if the nurses may be trusted.

When the whitecoats come, I invoke the posture
of the pasture, a flat expanse they trample

in the search for the root of my disease. The charm
is in the way they wring their hands when I ask after

my pretty predecessor. I’ve found a strand or two
of her red, red hair, cradled now and hidden well,

the beginning of a new concoction self-prescribed.
If I could find a fingernail or the remnant of a ribbon

used to lace her nightshirt closed, I would be closer
to the completion of my healing. I live to see the day

the whitecoats arrive to find me unwavering
in my form, the day I stand before them, whole,

and walk away with the shadow of my bedmate,
my mystic, my true physician who does no harm.

Sandy Longhorn’s most recent book, The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, won the 2013 Full Length Poetry Contest from Jacar Press. Her first book, Blood Almanac, won the 2005 Anhinga Prize for Poetry. She received her MFA from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and her BA in English from the College of St. Benedict. She teaches at Pulaski Technical College, where she directs the Big Rock Reading Series. She also co-edits Heron Tree, a journal of online poetry, bound annually.