He showed me the film
of a woman whose tongue had been cut out,
so she could never tell, and whose hands
had been cut off and replaced with branches,
and he told me how I should be thankful
for what happened to me, the experience of it,
like his friend, the tiny blonde ecstatic
in her swings, who once, saturate in mania
had said that she was blessed.
He said, it was “beautiful, so beautiful,”
and it was beautiful, the cinematography
a panning sweep into the swamp
where she motioned with the antlers
she had for wrists, her face the agony
of hopelessness, the deep red wound
of her mouth, round in its lack
of voice, while they gleefully took
everything from her mute and mutilated
oh, but beautiful, beautiful—
the cream-coloured dress, the layers of fabric
trailing in dirt as they perched her
atop the stump, like a veil, like some pedestal,
as if all this larceny, the very last thrash
as the sun made her wince, along with
the song of their manic mockery,
were some kind of savage worship;
beautiful, oh, beautiful!—
Lavinia as she tried to cover her breasts,
ill-fated, with her amputated arms and
kindling fingers, red-stained—
how vulnerable! her flushed cheeks!
her delicate young face! and the circling
jackals cackle away to leave her bound
and propped up like a doll;
oh, beautiful. An insipid spit of a word.
The sunset discovery of her swaying body,
the figure arriving through draping leaves—
a stand of birch trees recording in their scrolls
the names she cannot write or speak—
to behold her thick with clotted silence
and trapped above the festering slough,
her eloquent scream a ribbon of blood.
Seated on a ledge
above the burning city,
watching fires put out
by a coming tidal wave.
You’re fed a lavish
spread, a meal fine as
a white linen tablecloth.
Water solves the problem
of fire, does it not? A hot
ash blots the top
of your meringue.
How you must suffer.