Dressed in pink and wheeled forth to the healing
in a pillowed cart by her husband's hired man,
this woman is not dead yet, but her sidelong glance
at the ground beside her, covered in figured cloth
anchored in place with pots of flowers, tells us
her thoughts are earthward. She will not be healed.
Her husband and daughter are there, the child wearing
a dress cut from the same pink bolt of cloth
and painted with the same pink brush, but ruddier,
for she is twelve or twenty years away
from love, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, death.
It is spring, everything is wet and ripe and fresh,
and from a rose on one of the potted plants
the dying woman sees an infant worm
hang by a gleaming thread, then drop suddenly,
and she knows that when they lay her on the cloth
the pots will fail, the cloth give way, and she
will fall into the chute of endless night.
This poem was written as part of the surprise ekphrastic Halloween challenge.
Michele Stepto lives in Connecticut, where she has taught literature and writing at Yale University for many years. In the summers, she teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont. Her work has appeared in One Sentence Poem,NatureWriting, Mirror Dance Fantasy, Lacuna Journal, and Italian Americana. She is the translator, along with her son Gabriel, of Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World.
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