The Devil’s Nursery
Every morning they would usher us in
from the playground where we cowered, trapped
small figures in a shadowy lithograph
bordered with briars and ravens.
Cooing at us, eager to begin,
they said they had never seen
such good children, so sweet they could eat us.
As we sat down, our foreheads cracked like Pavlovas.
The weather they conjured was always bad,
dishrag clouds teeming with fever,
winds with blue faces screaming around corners
to blow us over and how well we would recall
those days when the slow terror of snow
was summoned for all the mothers to cut
straight lines through the white with their wheels.
Always we were urged to draw closer to the fire
kept blazing and unguarded, cracking out sparks.
We feared to move, being wax or wood,
still as puppets until they pulled our strings.
Every afternoon they laid us down to sleep,
each of us parcelled up in single beds,
our eyes reluctant to close while the cut flowers
around the room breathed out a subtle poison.
When the time came, they promised us,
we would all be called.
There would be a place for everyone.
We were such promising material.
*This piece first appeared in The New Zealand Poetry Society’s anthology, Ice Diver.
David Mark Williams writes poetry and micro fiction. His debut poetry collection will be out from Cinnamon later in 2015, followed by a collection of micro fiction from Liquorice Fish in 2016.