Halloween, Hampton Roads, A Woman AloneChildren would age me with their eyes.
I thought it enough,
candy outside the door for them,
a basket fuller than a pinata.
There would be no child
who would not quickly see
I was part of God’s house fallen in.
I had worked the garden till late,
pruning roses in last bloom.
I knew that time would stop me soon.
I smelled dryness, winter, drought.
I was alone that night,
my company the paintings of ancestors,
brightened by a candle flickering,
over their faces, right clothes of propriety.
Children came and left, footsteps
fluttering softly, until the girls’ laughter
light as spun sugar, filled the air.
Like someone who tolls the dead,
they rang many times.
When I opened the door, a row of dead frogs
twisted in the air, suspended from oak beams
polished by my father’s hands,
small pools of blood below.
I heard laughter, saw a shadow,
gripped a child’s arm.
She was no older than thirteen,
as full in body as a young lamb fed long on mother’s milk.
Her fullness spun me back,
a spiderweb of sensation, my husband’s body
close in the tobacco festival, summer
honeysuckle full in hedges on the bay.
Warmth, my heart, blood in pools,
my breasts so dry, so flaccid.
My heart, dead rose, heart, burden.
Men die, I warned her,
as I pulled her in.
She should not dream of Pocahontas,
running to the man she loved,
nor the handsome men who fought
on the decks of the Monitor and the Merrimac.
I told her not to wish for much.
Even hidden treasure would be possessed
by the head of a pirate
winking from the dust.
I told her to prize the sanctuary
of the body, though I knew it
too fragile to last.
I sent her home,
I, a woman alone.
Moira J. Saucer is a disabled poet who grew up in Hampton Roads, Virginia and now lives in the Alabama Wiregrass. She holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas Creative Writing Program and an MA from the University of Delaware. Her work has been published most recently by Burning House Press, Visual Verse, Mookychick, and Fly on the Wall Press’ The Weird and Wonderful magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @MJSEyesOpened
Image: Ironclads clashing in the battle of Hampton road American Civil War — a digital intervention by Robert Frede Kenter.