About the Poems
by Miriam Bird Greenberg
These poems are taken from my manuscript in progress, A Child's Primer of Augury. This manuscript forms the loosely interlocking narrative of a pack of half-feral country children as they learn to divine the future and communicate with the dead; often told from the mother’s point of view, the poems address childhood amorality through a fabulist, yet sometimes sinister lens. Though the events of the poems are imagined, the landscape is purely autobiographical: I grew up in a similarly rural setting, in a house built by my ancestors when they first settled the land a hundred and fifty years before. Owls dragged their claws across the attic floor every night, and two hives of bees lived between the first and second story (on hot summers, honey would drip through the ceiling into the library). I spent my childhood reading the spidery script of hundred year old letters bearing postmarks of Honey Grove, Ben Franklin, and Bugtussle, Texas, or playing in the fallen-in blacksmithing shed behind the house. In a place so inhabited with the histories of others, that I hadn't yet spoken to the ghosts of the ancestors meant only that I would later. Bookended by bees in the walls, and goats that slipped their fences and tenderly mouthed daffodil blossoms in springtime, then died bloated of the cyanide in narcissus, all things became possible. That I hadn't experienced something was no reason to assume I couldn't have experienced it (or won't still)—and it is with this world in mind that I write, as if moving around a darkened room, divining the objects within from the shapes of their shadows in the darkness.