What made you think that I had stayed in stasis
for the fourteen years you were in prison?
You would have been the first to throw a stone:
witch, unnatural, if I had waited, patient,
penniless, imprisoned by my memory of you---
instead of doing as the culture and our times dictated.
Marriage to a rich man made my days as empty
as a fishing net picked over onland for holes.
When I gave birth to Albert, I spoke three languages
besides my Catalan and your Francais; I kept the house
accounts and caught the steward as he siphoned off
that which he thought my husband would not miss;
I painted landscapes and sketched a face;
my idle hands have wrung the soul out of the spinet.
And you, sophisticate: no more a naive sailor
set on captaincy. I think we'd suit, in our old age.
I hear your voice and I am sixteen years again.
Then, I could do naught but follow in your smile.
Today, I only wince from your demands.
When I say "leave" and you hear "let me be alone
within my misery," I mean, "when you have gone,
so goes my obligation to the past;
all the rooms that I have built will fling
their doors wide open to the brine, the night sky,
to the singular and many-faceted epiphany
that I have made more of myself
than all your daydreams of me ever did."
Mary Alexandra Agner
writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets.
She can be found online at www.pantoum.org