Mary Gilliland, whose poetry has been anthologized in Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms In Our Hands and Strange Histories: A Bizarre Collaboration, has taught at Cornell in Ithaca and in Doha. Her award-winning The Ruined Walled Castle Garden will be out in 2020 from Bright Hill Press.
Where has she been this sweltering day
since she paused beside the horsehair armrest
and interrupted Mr. Borden’s nap
then glided by the kitchen where the maid
was plunged into a sticky business—canning—
and picked her way out to the shed?
The nimbus clouds cut open.
The sluice dulls her scarlet apron.
Crystals pitter patter on her nose.
Or is the cloudburst something that
like so much else only her farfetching
imagination sees? Fall River slips away
—the shed’s wood floor, the ax, the open door.
Lizzie’s willowy, an orphaned flower in the yard
and done with papa’s snores from the settee.
Empty eyes raised to cold heaven, she stalks
the plank that keeps her long skirt from
fresh puddles on her way back to the house.
(Originally published in Fourteen Hills, 2012.)