Undomesticated, animal-poor,
strung up in a field of Alabama deep.

Everything that can be done to a man
was done to him. His limbs are

1936, the year my father turned five
and learned to name things.

Scarecrow. Jesus. So begins the record
of human forms, primer in first memories.

This is the tree. This is the tree’s scarred bark.


Author Image

Lillien Waller received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is the editor of American Ghost: Poets on Life after Industry (Stockport Flats, 2011). “Scarecrow” is one of a series of poems tracing her father’s migration from rural Alabama to the industrial north. After many years living in New York City, she recently returned home to Detroit, Michigan.