M.V. Montgomery's most recent collection of poetry and experimental fiction is The Island of Charles Foster Kane (Ephemera Publishing).
Notes On Dwarves
A university town. A sooty, not-so-nice neighborhood. A grad student, I had just moved into a second-story apartment. Had several of my things with me: a tiny cot and a queen bed, both barren of sheets, a couple of wooden end tables, a lamp. Looking around, I wondered if I might have done better on the location or price, but shrugged this thought off and went riding on my motorcycle. I cruised through a posh city area clearly out of my price range—and then, doubling back, passed student housing filled with throngs of partiers—dozens of young men crammed into rooms, hanging out of the windows, waving. Suddenly, I had a bad premonition. Parking the bike, I climbed the steel staircase to my place, walked in the open door, and therein saw dozens of young men milling around who claimed the rooms had been rented out to them also. They were at least half-respecting my stuff, not sitting or reclining on the beds—but I soon realized, guiltily, that my furniture was taking up too much space. I began carrying on a conversation with one man seated on top of a table. He had a strange reddish-brown beard and a young family waiting nearby, he said. Students were still flooding into town, and I wondered what recourse any of us had. We were already too many, with more brothers arriving by the minute, squeezing themselves small as they stepped through the door.
What We Did In Spring
When the rains stopped, we’d take the Harvest Man down
from the hayloft, where he’d stared forlornly into the rafters
for months with his moss-grown eyes and daddy longlegs lashes.
Oh, you hollow bag of bones! Oh, you stick-and-figure man!
we taunted. We young people replaced his eyes with acorns
and smeared his lips with purple berries. Then we raised the
motley old effigy up on a pole and carried it house to house,
demanding our tribute of sweets and seeds, singing all the while.
Later, we marched that pole over the fresh-turned fields and
planted it in the earth. We adorned it with daisies and ivy.
Then each of us caught an end of a curling vine and danced,
and the songs carried on all afternoon—Soon, a Little More
or Ashes to Ashes. At dusk, we reconvened to burn down
the Harvest Man and to feast on our plunder, roasting treats
over the rotted straw hulk with its sagging mouth and doleful
eye sockets. Chanting as we did, Harvest is dead, all must be fed.
In due course, a Lord and Lady were chosen. Their attendants
prepared a bower of green leaves and flower petals and arranged
lit candles in a circle. Then we skipped away across the furrows,
two-by-two, scattering dark handfuls of seeds. Lord and Lady were
left alone in that bower as the candles winked on and off like
fairy-lights—left to stretch tentative hands toward one another,
left to discover new love.