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The Corn Baby

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They brought it. It was brought   
from the field, the last sheaf, the last bundle   

the latest and most final armful. Up up   
over the head, hold it, hold it high it held   

the gazer’s gaze, it held hope, did hold it.   
Through the stubble of September, on shoulders   

aloft, hardly anything, it weighed, like a sparrow,   
it was said, something winged, hollow, though   

pulsing, freed from the field   
where it flailed in wind, where it waited, wanted   

to be found and bound with cord. It had   
limbs, it had legs. And hands. It had fingers.   

Fingers and a face peering from the stalks,   
shuttered in the grain, closed, though just a kernel   

a shut corm. They brought him and autumn   
rushed in, tossed its cape of starlings,   

tattered the frost-spackled field.

Source: Poetry (March 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Corn Baby

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