“From Esther, With Love”

All I know for sure is they found her at the bottom of a well
one day back in the ‘70s, a middle-aged woman in a long house dress.
She was my great aunt or my great-great aunt, I’m not sure which,
but she wasn’t all there, mentally speaking.
My mother once told me how she was sometimes afraid of her
as a child. Her permed head nearly touched the ceiling
and she spoke with the infantile drawl of a very young girl,
reaching into her pockets to offer my mother and her siblings
little store-bought cookies, maybe Lorna Doone Shortbreads
or Zu Zu Ginger Snaps.

Whether or not she jumped down the well’s dark throat of her own accord
or perhaps tripped over a knobby cypress root is undetermined.
Whether the well held water and they pulled her out—
cotton dress clinging to her bloated, pale green body—
or whether it was dry as a bone and left her face gaunt and withered
and gritty from lying down there who knows how long
has never been mentioned, either.

All I know is they found her in that well—
a few unfortunate children, or a neighbor, or her very own mother—
and she had a little bundle of wild violets in her pocket,
tied together with a thin strand of twine.
On the twine, they said, hung a small tag
with indiscernible childish letters scribbled in ink.


A Murmuration

For Maggie

You left 
       in a     w h o o s h    of starlings,
          a murmuration that    h e a v e d 
      	      into the honeyed July evening
                             like one 
On hundreds of wings 
                    as sleek 
                            and shiny 
                                    as an oil spill,
                                                   you rose 
                            from an ornamental pear,
                  stirring the leaves 
    so that the tree itself
s i g h e d    at your going
and longed for your company
                          as you danced 
                                       and faded 
                                       the settling 


Megan Hutchinson is a fiction writer and poet from the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio. She received her fiction MFA from Western Kentucky University and her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in HeartWood Literary Magazine, Ponder Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, among others. She also won first place in the 2020 KSPS Grand Prix Poetry Contest. She is the editor of a newspaper in rural Kentucky.