“Scarecrow” – Poetry by Kristine Ong Muslim

Scarecrow - Candido Portinari, 1959
Scarecrow – Candido Portinari, 1959

What you see is not what you think, and what you don’t see may prove deadly in “Scarecrow,” one of two poems by Kristine Ong Muslim in our Summer 2015 issue (available here, here, here, or here).

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IT IS A HUSK, and although it wants nothing from you, you develop an urge to remedy its emptiness, to scrunch stuffing as far as you can down its throat in order to fill its belly with what you believe is the cure for its supposed hunger. All this time, its lanky frame gently sways, not necessarily buffeted by the wind. All this time, you mistake its lopsidedness for a lack of balance, its momentary teetering for hesitation. It is not in you to imagine that it may be a little off-balance because it is giddy with happiness. And because you find it bereft of the accoutrements you associate with a comfortable life, you deem it to be somehow in pain. Because you find it empty, you elect to have it filled. Downwind, you hear it tinkle. Sometimes, it rustles—a soft rustling sound you associate with the brittle bones of the emaciated and the deprived. So, you think and think of ways to heal what you perceive as its maladies. In the meantime, you ignore the smoke coming out of the wooden slats that line the shed, you ignore the wailing bestiary in the barn.

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KristineOngMuslimKRISTINE ONG MUSLIM is the author of several books, the most recent being We Bury the Landscape (Texas: Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012) and Grim Series (Wisconsin: Popcorn Press, 2012). “Scarecrow” and “The Fugitive” will be collected in her forthcoming book Black Arcadia from the University of the Philippines Press. http://kristinemuslim.weebly.com/

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