Mary Jane rang an Irish refrain,
drunk on Ten Bells whiskey.
Her unpolluted apron ablaze,
she surrendered a scarlet shawl
and her weary wildgrass heart
to the rogue incubus cloaked
in the serrated fog, haunting
every step of squalid streets,
preying on its darkest shadows.
She placed the native beauty berries
upon her wooden churchyard grave,
marked with the Unfortunate’s brand
she seared upon her own scars
when she abandoned everywhere
that could tie her to anyone.
In the end, there was nothing
she would not do
for a fire.
Megan Denese Mealor
This poem was first published in Jersey Devil Press.
Author's note: Inspired by Nuit d’ete, painted by Walter Sickert (1860-1942), an English painter and printmaker who frequented Whitechapel often during the bloody reign of Jack the Ripper in 1888. Nuit d’ete was painted in 1906, and is thought by some conspiracy theorists to be the likeness of fifth victim Mary Jane Kelly, who was discovered in a similar pose on her bed, literally in pieces. Walter Sickert is considered by some to be a good candidate for Jack the Ripper; my personal belief is that he was simply inspired by the killings.
Megan Denese Mealor has been writing practically since birth. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in numerous journals, most recently A Long Story Short, The Dying Dahlia Review, and Down in the Dirt. The granddaughter of celebrated Georgia artist Gene Mealor, Megan inherited his fascination with imagery. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her partner Tony, son Jesse, and cats JubJub and Trigger.
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