H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S J O U R N A L
B R E N D A M A N N H A M M A C K
Brenda Mann Hammack is an associate professor of English of Fayetteville State University. She also leads online workshops in fairy tale and magic realism at The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative and The Eckleburg Workshops. She is managing editor for Glint Literary Journal. Hammack's poetry and fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including Menacing Hedge, Gargoyle Magazine, Mudlark, Papercuts, Elsewhere Lit, Bone Bouquet, and A capella Zoo.
S E C R E T G A R D E N
after the painting by Heather Nevay
My skirt is not a hedge, or fort by Fabergé.
Little brother, once removed, you’ll catch
your death adventuring so. You shouldn’t
shoot your favorite marbles outside
of ring. You never know what lurks
beneath embroidered leaves,
what worms placate
For robin’s breast is red from sacrifice.
And, little lambkins, the Bible shows
that boys are meant to test their elders’
faith. And mine is feeling ill-
disposed. So, take your wood
and woolen wheeled toy
far away from petti-
hope like Dante bids before you trespass
in my wardrobe. You will not find a cat’s
eye aggie, or clot of glassie, ox-blood
globe. Nor will you hear Herr
Mahler’s birdsong. You will not
find the Holy Ghost. Mein
kleines Lamm. My dear
of straying into chamber forbidden
to the undergrown. You’ll stain
lace blue with forget-me coat.
You will not find my diary’s home.
And, if you did, you could not know
Valencia orange from blood-
red rose. These ribbons
I wear aren’t marigold.
Some secrets only women know.
These petals I press aren’t pirate’s trove.
You cannot understand what’s pinched
my nipples out of flatness so take
your toys to Barbary Coast. It’s safer
now that I am grown. Boys must not
enter private gardens. Love-
lies-bleeding under clothes.
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