Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol. 21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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There was no one to tell it to, so the guilt
settled in the lines of the house, in sills,

doorframes, ceilings. In the late afternoons
that followed, she heard what could have been someone

knocking, the cardinal beating its body against
the living room window as though desperate

to come inside. It could not see the space
beyond the glass, or know that it had been deceived

again into mistaking itself for something else.
At dusk, when the windows’ slow reversal

released it, turning instead to her own face, disfamiliar,
terrible, she also knew the same desire

to fly into that room, that house, some other woman.


She had said she needed this, and time,
to write, and often she had written here, the room

almost bare: only a desk beneath
tall, thin windows, a lamp, loveseat,

a dictionary the wind browsed—all sentient
with waiting. Then, when she could not abandon

the lie, grief became its sharper part, secreted
into the hours she was still obligated

to come here—the long mirror where she had
admired herself returning the pale gray

of a shadowless wall. The typewriter old, anchor-
heavy, she began again—filling sheet after

sheet with drafts she would abandon, the black
ribbon of ink spooling vowels, words, ragged

lines away from her in pale relief, her head
bowed beneath curtains so sheer they might have been

meaningless except in giving form
to the wind, when there was one.


She made her husband’s dinner in the afternoon,
then sealed it for him to warm up later while she gardened

well past dark. Used to it, he no longer complained.
Every morning she let in the neighbor’s gray cat;

she didn’t know his name, had never fed him,
but every day he returned, faithful, to spend

hours moving with the sun through her house in a drowsy
migration. Sometimes he followed her into the garden,

would rub against her legs as though comforting her,
as though he alone understood that every bulb she sank into this earth

was another stone sewn into the hem of her skirt.  

Reprinted from Figure Studies, 2008, with permission from Louisiana State University Press and Kent Ippolito.

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