"The Yellow Wallpaper" Sestina
She needed to get out
of the house. So I invited Charlotte
for tiramisu, coffee-soaked ladyfingers
and alcohol being great inducers. The bell rang
with me still in my slip, burning rows of yellow
arches into a blouse with a too-hot iron
to cover an earlier mistake. From his cage, the bird
screeched, whoisitwhoisitwhoisit. Damn bird.
"It's me, you. Let me in. It's Charlotte."
"Just a minute. I have to turn off the iron,"
I yelled and fed Hector a ladyfinger
through the bars of his cage. Charlotte-smeared-yellow
rushed in, a bag of wallpaper in hand, to wring
my mental neck. "Liar," she said. "You'd be ringing
bells at the asylum if they caught you with that bird."
She'd smudged my fresh-scrubbed wall. "Why so yellow?"
I asked. You never can tell with Charlotte.
"Look in the bag," she said. I gasped. "A lady's fingers?"
"They were in the attic behind Aunt Harriet's urn.
"We need to get her out," she said. "Unplug the iron
and help me." Not wanting to trigger a harangue,
I neglected to mention we didn't know this lady's fingers
from Eve's. Hector felt no such compunction, damn bird,
and screeched, whoisitwhoisitwhoisit. Charlotte
ignored him and dipped strips of wallpaper, yellow
and hideous, into my sink. Soon both smeared yellow,
we rinsed the paper and draped it across the ironing
board. The fingers skittered by. "Grab her," Charlotte
said. Focused on our labor, we let the phone ring.
Charlotte reddened and screamed, "You're outnumbered,
you crazy thing." She snatched the lady's fingers
free. There they were, the lady and her fingers,
a homunculus she in a puddle of yellow
on my kitchen floor, unencumbered
by dirty walls or blouses and irons,
by swatches of wallpaper we'd have to wring
dry. "She's beautiful," I said. "Tiramisu, Charlotte?"
We ate our coffeed-upped ladyfingers in a ring of yellow
afternoon and watched our she-child tumble, ironing
forgotten—Charlotte, the damn bird and me.