Vocation | Paulann Petersen



A purveyor of charms, I write
spells on pieces of paper, then give them
away. A spell to make honeybees not dwindle
in numbers. A spell to bless the red of dahlias that bring
bees flurrying to a garden. One to bless the wedding of two
women friends, each at the other's nectar-mouth. Another
to toast two men cloven together for twenty-five years.
A chant for seeds waiting to be buried so they can rise
again in leafy flourish. Songs for yeast bread.
For the bit of borrowed sun in an oven's heat.
Plain charms. Not so plain. Charms that require
the wind for translation. 
                                          Some people inform me
that no one will value what's given away. To them,
I'll present my bill. A dime per charm—enough to buy
pretty paper for more. Then I'll fashion the spell
that makes a dime payment enough to make
scoffers into believers. 
                                         I'll conjure a niggling charm—
one to keep those ants who yearn to live in my house
outdoors. Then a ring of words biting its own tail,
making the circle that keeps all crawling creatures
a-crawl. White magic spelled out
in black ink on a pale page. 
                                                On my list of spells-to-do,
I'll put a rabbit foot's worth of words to keep
loved-ones whole. Another for the balm called healing,
if my first attempt should fail. A charm to make the number
of sunlit hours and the time tomatoes need to ripen
come out even. An abracadabra so my husband avoids
the blind alleys of Wall Street. A sleight of hand to keep
my right hand writing. A wishbone inviting me
to make the tug from my side
so even, so steady, 
                                  the wish never needs to stop.

                       —Paulann Petersen


One Small Sun, Salmon Poetry, 2019


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