Sheila-Na-Gig online


Bonnie Proudfoot

Bonnie Proudfoot is a recipient of a Fellowship for the Arts in Creative Writing from the West Virginia department of Culture and History, and has had fiction and poetry published in the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Sheila-Na-Gig online, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, and other journals. Her first novel, Goshen Road, was published by Swallow Press in January of 2020, and was selected by the Women’s National Book Association for one of its Great Group Reads for 2020. The novel was also long-listed for the 2021 PEN/ Hemingway award for debut fiction.

To Vincent

(after Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows)

Again, autumn is gone too soon. Only in October
is the sky so blue, Dutch blue, Delft china blue,
and the hayfields bronze and glowing.

Do you know that as the arc of the sun lowers,
every direction on this Ohio ridgetop could be
your last canvas, Wheatfield with Crows?

Light moves fitfully through the stubble of wheat,
crows cluster in unruly flocks along the horizon,
their raucous calls speak of endings, of want.

The world wears us down despite any struggle
to resist. What is there to look to
but the landscape? Cerulean sky, tree-line,

wheatfield, night gathering, bringing crows.
Oh, Vincent. Maybe you spent your whole life
trying to keep those crows out of your painting,

and then one day, you finally let them in.

Broken Moon

Apartment windows glazed with soot, every darkened room
a grid of panes, a slice of sky, just out of reach, a broken moon

puddles in the blacktop mirrored by hubcaps, glimpses of infinity
in fractured halos, each streetlight hanging like a token moon

a stalled bus opens its doors at the bus stop, a neon biker
stitches the streets, traffic lights flash like desires unspoken, moon

at dawn, moon at noon, sun flees west, all slides toward dark
we know when the stars will rise, but not you, un-woken moon

if time is distance, and distance is time, then how can we measure
these miles that fracture into months, splinters of a broken moon

is it a song that keeps you with me, is that how I still know
the gauze of night, these echoes heard that can’t be spoken, moon–

light can hold it all, how I sing of sorrow in dimming light, how gravity
calls me to the world, but the world still wounds me open, moon.


A she-fox lives in our neighborhood. One autumn
I glimpsed her on the edge of the woods, curled up
in a leaf pile beside a fallen elm, an orange ball,

glowing. One neighbor fed her supermarket eggs
and cut-up chicken parts, one neighbor set up
an electric fence, turned his dogs loose at night,

some of us drive more slowly, scan the edge of the hill,
glance up while raking, hope she stops long enough
to view even a part of her, slender nose, black legs

russet coat, white tail tip. She barks at us,
a soft cough, a warning not to get too close.
Poetry feels like that, keeps us close enough

to bring a small part back, the rest slips
away, one part in focus, one part wild.
I like that, want to be there, in that place.

Once she sat atop a large rock, kits wrestling
and tumbling beside her. Once a male fox limped by,
rear paw held in a rusty snare, chain trailing behind.

Once a fox-hater stood in the driveway of
a fox-feeder, cursing their family, threatening
to hire a sharp-shooter. And like that, she

was gone. Just gone. November. December. Wind
howled through bare treetops, snow piled in drifts.
January. February. In a dream, an unseen animal paces

my spine, paws planting on places that need
to crack open. Then, against the snowy hillside,
a gift I didn’t earn or deserve, watching me, watching her.