Jane Morris Reads Wide Sargasso Sea as She Sits for Rosetti
the fascination of a captive woman. the impossible pulp of full lips & large sad eyes, the long pale fingers fiddling with her wedding band as she anxiously awaits her husband’s rage. her thick auburn hair falls in waves like a sunset as the crows caw out her fate behind her in the grey sky, an omen of death here & luck elsewhere. he says he loves me but when I look at his paintings the woman in them is someone else. my beauty blacker & more brooding than hers. her perfect features, the fig of fidelity against her back. only the gaze is right. she stares into the middle distance, pensive, an expression I know from photographs, from the memories carried by the body & the body alone, of a woman caught between artists. how even when the mind is fooled, the rest of the body knows. it knows. do you hear me? I know. candles the first flight the second. stay to watch the passage how to get away the battlements sat there quietly the sky red all my life the orchids and the stephanotis and the jasmine and the tree of life in flames the call the man who hated me caught my hair it streamed like wings when I looked over the edge the sky screamed and I thought it burned up again to light me along the dark 1 1 Source text: Rhys, J. (1992). In Wide Sargasso Sea: A Novel (pp. 170–171). W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
American Murder Ballad
“My girl, my girl, don't you lie to me/ Tell me where did you sleep last night” —Leadbelly
she who drinks starlight is drowning among the black swaying boughs of pines opaque needle-bundles silhouetted against the sooty sky ;; a train whistle howls in the distance ,, its sound like a night spent alone ;; her throat fills with liquid ;; her body,, apart ,, shivers ;; she is clothed in a pale thin nightgown ;; the wind which whispers her nipples to hard pips her only companion tonight ;; despite what he will say ;; she has been faithful ;; one man is more than enough trouble ;; at home ,, he plucks a guitar and croons the blues on the porch ,, practicing his story ;; in the morning she will pace on bare feet back to him, his jealousy closing like a fist around her breathless neck ;; she will place ;; a cold kiss ;; on his lips ;; by tomorrow night ;; they will be gone ;; the sounds of the wind and the trains and the blues music will settle like silence on the remainder ;; a baleful refrain ;; but for the high sough of air through the pine needles ;; or the chords of dusty musicians who love only an instrument ,, they would not be mourned
Reynardine’s Young Woman Watches Thelma and Louise
“Day and night and night and day she followed him, his teeth did shine/ And he led her o'er the mountain, did that sly bold Reynadine” —Carolina Chocolate Drops
the warbling spring slopes down to touch your shoulder where blouse slips below socket & you remember the way sun was a kind of melancholy hope in those days when his hand on your shoulder didn’t yet mean shut the fuck up, you hear me? damn bitch evenings that began at two p.m., the lengthening of light until sunset sat on the world, blazing red tresses of glow & you, bathing in it as if it would keep you safe elixir of youth & illusion: the shimmering brightness of oncoming winter & you followed him, with his fox grin & crooked teeth over the hills until your teenage years grew small in the rearview mirror, the late afternoon light behind you haloing your hair as your hands rest on the steering wheel driving your own car into the quiet possibilities of night
Michaela Mayer is a 27-year-old poet and educator from Virginia. Her works have previously appeared in Claw & Blossom, Q/A Poetry, Barren Magazine, Feral Poetry, Olit, Monstering Mag, The Lumiere Review, and others. She has a forthcoming chapbook with Fahmidan Publishing & Co. and a gorgeous cat named Sappho. You can find her on Twitter @mswannmayer5.