Tomb of the Unknown Washerwoman

Tomb of the Unknown Washerwoman

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Diane Martin is a photographer, translator, and Russian literature specialist. She’s been published in numerous literary magazines, and is currently living in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she’s working on a novel about the Siege of Leningrad.




Tomb of the Unknown Washerwoman

From WTP Vol. X #3

—Sansepolcro, Italy

Holy relic now, her shadow’s
hung precisely on a hanger.
An attraction, smoothed, creased, flat wounds
stitched, injustice brushed clean, transferred.

Stoned, the crime of reading Dante,
or Flaubert, or Blok while bleeding,
as though menstruating muddied
thoughts, as well as soiling sheets in

the tub, judged a capital deed.
Red, blue, dusty, ragged rag doll
hung up to fry on a barren
hill, her neighbors cheer soul to hell.

Dust to dust and ashes to soap.
Waste not, want not. Industry pays.
Monkshood-scented bars on Market
Square, the secret element draws

toothy tourists, gathering gifts,
spreading word of crafted heirblooms
at sustainable cost. Lilies,
white, perfume the empty, locked tomb.

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