Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Lavinia, Afterwards

What happened in the forest was not the worst
of it—hands cut off, tongue cut out—mute and
mutilated, silenced even to touch. Always another

way to speak—stick in the mouth. I cannot sing
but scribble sand. You still hear me, inadvertent
and alone, I am more than this form, scarred,

blood-bathed, shaking with pain. The body would
rather this than lies. As a child, I buried acorns
in the dirt, smoothing the ground to hide the damage

and darkness—my nursemaids over the walnut crib.
Without hands, I cannot squirrel to retrieve. Without
hands, I cannot caress the beards of unworthy men.

Oh cousin, you are wrong, wrong to think that had
he known me better, he would have loathed to hurt me
in mad rage. Why believe that one who could devise

atrocities is capable of remorse? I am spared the
choice of forgiveness—no one seeks such grace
from me. Watch me run back to the wood where

a girl was murdered. Listen, I can tell you what will
save you—visualize Daphne morphing into laurel.
Grow branches so Philomel may perch upon you

and take over the music that pounds through every
living thing. Listen, listen: he has always been wrong;
every song of grief is still song.  

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