Hatchet Lady

By: Keira Clements

I am an artist, born under Pictor.

I trod on sodden soil, heaving in the downpour. 

Death snakes toward my mystery tree, 

talons extended like dark clouds of misery. 


I am not honest— in that I am sure, 

yet here I am rasping, revealing to him more, 

“Please, Death, do not yet seize this tree from me. 

It is to be my canvas, if that you will see.” 


Death’s top half converges into a boar. 

He huffs and stamps bird-like feet, he who coldly swore, 

“Alright, take thy hatchet then, little bee- 

Go labor til the devil catches thee 

in his great nightingale claws of finality.” 


I acquiesce. I cannot afford more. 

I shake hands with him. Now I’m entering a door 

from which no escape there ever will be: 

dolour— giving form to fresh stabs at liberty. 


Am I an artist, born under Pictor? 

Was ever this tool I bear clear of gore, 

or is life but a submerged memory? 

I hack at the bark, though no cut will set me free. 


I chop away wooden flesh. Soon I bore 

into a smiling maze of scarlet rings. 

Death scrutinizes my work, livened by glee, 

tracing the veined curves of my crimson symphony. 


“Oh, what a masterpiece thou have in store. 

If with axe thou struck upon the red notes and tore, 

the devil’d be obligated to ‘gree…” 

“That all that breathes, pays.” He smirks handsomely. 


On this day, it had stormed fierce, and Death wore 

the rags of an urchin over his sickened form. 

He perches now on a pillar ‘bove me 

dangling his feet as if he can be happy. 


I then brace to swing as I had before, 

but my mind grows twisted. It imagines amor. 

I fall, forlorn, deprived of what I see— 

the first pure concept, the first non-ghastly. 


I plunge toward Death’s palms, the wind at a roar, 

then pause as I picture losing my core. 

I realize that, yes, this heart is a fee; 

good, but easily lost to devious company. 


All that exists to my grim grey captor– 

and to me– has been one muddy color, 

so backward on time’s spiral I do flee,

hoping that no one will know better of this scene. 


Still I possess not all that I wish for, 

though Death has shrunk far, and hatchet wedded the floor. 

I feed the tree as one does merrily. 

On occasion, I nourish its roots by weeping.


The beautiful life men wish and fight for 

is one I shall never know or adore. 

I am an artist who works with sin green 

As the skin of those who are wicked and thus freed. 


I’ve dwelled in the sunken pits of earth’s form, 

navigated its tears and never conformed. 

Then one day I met Death and refused to heed 

his advice on piercing the bright heart of a tree.



Art Piece by Madison Mesa