The Girl in the Staveloftet

by Jen Mehan

Hallingdal Museum, Norway

staveloftet_linkThey say she outlived the plague,

that for two years she floated

above farm only to burrow

in wild piles of grain, wax thread,

her mother’s old clothes.

That she was the only to survive,

her only respite the tunnel to church

staveloftet_bubonicplaguewhere she could kneel and find sun

between the stave church cracks

where the ballblom flower now grows.


They didn’t say her father bruised

her inner arms when he shoved her

inside, that her candles ran thin

after six months, that the scratches

of rat claws at the wooden foundation

reminded her of the plagued palms

begging entrance. What they didn’t say—

when a group of soldiers came

for wild berries and goats and found her,

she couldn’t unfurl herself, too used

to her small path. That she forgot language.

That she walked over the bodies,

trying to remember the colors of their cloth

or eyes before the sun bleached them.


About the Author

Jen Mehan holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Miami. She has edited various journals and magazines, served as an intern for the Joe Milford Poetry Show, and attended poetry classes at Georgia Tech and the Sarah Lawrence College Summer Seminars for Writers. She is an avid crafter, baker, and bookmaker.