watches her fingers shrink
back to human size, her knuckle hair disappear,
leaving only the smooth, ivory skin
so coveted by gentlewomen.
Too tired to forget the rapist
she has stalked to empty alley in her madness,
she feels the flaking, dry skin
of his throat between her sensitive palms.
She feels his death kick cut her shins, again.
Again, in the morning light of the rented room
a cloudy liquid fizzes, full,
in the glass beaker on the desk.
The incessant sound mocks her, marks her
as a murderer. One draught down her throat
last dusk would have kept her human all night.
She picks up the paper coated with London
sewers and smeared with blood, to read
the elegant stanza she awkwardly printed
just hours ago, with her too-large hands,
while sitting on a corpse. She tastes the words.
The consonants bite and are swept away
by fluid vowels. They come so close to closing
the poem, five other stanzas written
in the last five feverish days.
One more stanza, one more life.
Copyright © 2002 Mary Alexandra Agner
Mary Alexandra Agner holds a Masters in Earth and Planetary Science from MIT and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Emerson College. She has spent most of her life observing the universe and writing about it. She makes her home outside Boston.