THE WOMAN WHO WAS SAWN IN HALF, OUT OF HER BOX, ON A WALK IN THE WOODS, THINKS—ENDLESSLY ABOUT THE SAW—& ABOUT LOVE: THE CHASE, THE TRANSFORMATION, LOVE AS A FOREST—ISN’T THAT WHAT THE POETS SAY?
& I think I’m lost, every tree one of those Greek nymphai, the path not really a path, the overhang more like underthicket (what is this, my sweet—your love?), Daphne rooted to the spot, bark climbing Dryope slowly from below—Dryope who’d meant no harm, her hair brittle as twigs—& why me in this tangle?—the yellow arrows painted on the rocks pointing deeper into the gloom, the same stump blocking my way again & again, still oozing: I know it like a sister—why can’t I move on?—
On the Journey to Redeem the Long-necked Swan,
You Must Carry a Stool for Your Weariness
It doesn’t matter why swan or why you must redeem her.
All that matters in the story is the stool. So strap it on your back
and set forth.
You are tired already, the stool is made of iron, a monstrous thing,
it’s the cookstove with the crack in the door that you and your ex-
husband fought over at the end, oh, when it was February and
geese were flying around up there way too soon.
Fickle month, sacred to Juno Februata, goddess of in heat. What
did he say, that man you left your husband for?—things choose us.
It was a fever, the way Keats dying of the "decline" described his
love for Fanny Brawne.
But what did Keats say about things in his lovely February
letter?—now I am ill I philosophise aye out of my attachment to
every thing, Trees, Spring, Claret &c &c aye every thing but you.
And now Keats is gone, and Fanny Brawne is gone, and the geese
have flown north.
All you have is this thing called regret. A long journey. If you bend
over backward, you can rest on the stool without unstrapping it.
Sue D. Burton is a physician assistant specializing in women’s health care. Her poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, Green Mountains Review, Mudlark, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, and on Verse Daily. She has been awarded Fourth Genre’s 2017 Steinberg Prize and the Two Sylvias Press Poetry Prize (BOX, forthcoming, fall 2018).