Saturday, April 3, 2010


Jenny Greenteeth squats in mud and duckweed
with her broken mouth and her long bony fingers
She is a swallower of apple-cheeked babies,
the riverwitch, the willow's lover
sweetheart of suicides

Jenny Greenteeth has weedy hair
and long bony fingers, to clutch at the ankles
of boys skipping stones, swinging from ropes
she is the tangler of fishing lines
her teeth are broken bottles
her father is a grindylow, a nix

Jenny Greenteeth combs her hair
and children piss their beds
she is the dark, and the man in the car with no windows
and she will take what is left when he is done

Jenny is the fish that eat the eyes of the broken dollies
she hisses in the grass at the waters edge
Jenny is the lover of the boy with the pocketfulls of stones
Jenny fills her bed with cold water on the nights he comes
she is swallower of crime and sorrow

she is the branches where the drowned boy tangled,
the rot that puffed his belly in the cold and the dark
the kiss that took his lips
when he rocked in her arms for a fortnight

riverwitch, hungry lover
her splintered mouth whispers
of how they knew her once
how she could teach a secret song
to charm the fish, to knot the wind
to swell the bellies of the kine

how the river rose, black with mud
for the crops before they broke her
how they gave her bones and blood for barley
for their beer, called her mother
for the good black earth
she left behind her

now she is hungry, and the weed
a green carpet of scum, runoff rich
tastes of oil and poison
jenny remembers songs to reap to
remembers lovers in her good black mud
fires in the autumn
remembers dollies of corn

she waits and whispers in the dark and mud
for the babies with their apple cheeks
for night swimmers, for the sorrow-laden
to come down the weedy shadow
to riverwitch, to unfed dark
to jenny greenteeth


  1. Is her number 867-5309?

    (I love this poem)

  2. The imagery in this is so fantastic. It got me going--writing a poem now about my father almost drowning as a child in the Vermilion Bayou...