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.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761