14 November 2006 | Vol. 6, No. 3

An Oracle Concerning the Melancholic Concubine

Sometimes you feel you've a touch of the broken heart,

when the orchid of evening wilts into nighttime,

when the darkness is not yet deep.

When you are tipsy with the grief of his leaving,

a flutter in your dovecot, when you chatter like a magpie,

staggering. When, unlucky wren, you are all sin

or shining. Fine, fine, you pledge aloud, though you are lying.

When you move against what he remembers of you.

When you are two steps ahead, but arrested.

En passant, when you are a pawn for his play

or an intention in his imperative mood. When bare verbs

subject you to their brutal futility. When he abuses you

in his absence, when his somnolence blacks you out.

When you relax, and when you tense. When at last you give in

and you anchor down, crouched, between his wedge and sleeve.

When you cannot help it. When it comes so easily.

About the author:

Jill Alexander Essbaum's newest collection, Harlot, is available from No Tell Books.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Jill Alexander Essbaum at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 3, where "An Oracle Concerning the Melancholic Concubine" ran on November 14, 2006. List other work with these same labels: poetry, editors' select.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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