Summer 2012

Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 2


Poetry    Fiction    Translations    Reviews   

Laurie Byro



I suppose that Time will do his usual work... Death has done his.
Byron Society

Maybe Aunt Mary will stitch me together to breathe
like the monster, ask a lightning bolt to bring me back

to make good all my names. But the sisters say, children
aren’t made that way. The sisters say I want you

like I want the arm of a gingerbread man, not because
there is blood between us. How can a life be absent

of anger, and yet I was not allowed to grow up.
One of these days I shall become the best

of Shakespeare’s ladies, loyal and loving and true.
I am convinced I could leave this place to lie among

the beautiful flowers. A garland of lilies anointing me
Queen. But I wonder, how many names can one Queen

have? It is true I am lonely for the living. I shall beckon
all the Papas who have saved me when I’ve been forced

to let you go; Father, your daughter loves you so. I laugh
and cover my mouth at the sight of each friend.

Surrounded by water, I am a slippery fish.
I have one wish and I will blow it into my Uncle’s ear

when I kiss his blue mouth, when he sheds
his last tear and tucks me in forever.


Ophelia Speaks

I had a river once. No one shared what I had.
I had you, mansion of tears. My love was forever
a country boy, dusty, bumping along the road
looking for a gang of Magi to join. He found a star

to follow, he was a tart seeking fame and alas
the skies found their fiery boy. They stole him,
plucked him down and put him under the ground
to grow, to grow not white birch or a prayer tree

the others tried to climb upon. He is all in green,
my love; he will ferry us straight to the North.
And me? I was fashioned out of petals, rain
and garland paths. When you enter my halls of water,

call me daughter. I am a studded and baubled rose,
gathered in fennel and rue. Rosemary
for an uncrowned Lady. Remember me. What I could not
say, they took that from me too: I speak to the fish.

In my kingdom of carp, all my Princes know
who they are. Make no mistake, there is no hidden treasure
in frogs. They stray away from me, always my lot,
they nibble and taste but they don’t stay long.

The moonlight drapes their green throats in luster
like ermine. All these dazzled spirits flutter and descend
on my lips: ruby-winged darter, gold ringed nymph.
And you, who said I never had a treasure worth keeping?

How can I live without a name: a father or a brother?
I beg you, call me daughter. The turtles lay down
their robes before me. We have no need
for jewels, no Queen to steal my pearls.


The Best Sister of Wyrd

I am Darkness, beneath this burnt-out moon.
My blouse and hose fall away to the unforgiving
floor. When did we three last meet? I embrace

my other two selves. Call them Chaos and Conflict.
Make the gruel thick and slab. I never wanted
to be bad. Alas, they are stronger, they shout me down.

When I met him on his destiny horse, ready to hold
court, what chance did I have? Did I tell you, I never
intended to be bad? I shudder for the green air,

the cathedral of trees where I first became his sentinel,
perched on a ditch of rain where mosquitoes raise
their kin. I am his perfect otherwild—he doesn’t know me

for a hag. We can pit our wills, skin on skin, fire burn
and rag. All those years of wearing his silk, shrugging off
her guilt when she had no will for it. Bile in her throat,

she wore his ambition like a fur coat. Call me Weyward,
but beneath it all, I am a warty girl with the want of
magic. A sylph has the benefit of smoke and ermine

while I was chosen to buzz among the roses. My Master
sees me as uncommon. Them? Those weird sluts. Whose
forbidden is this, to pounce the dark together and call it love?


© Laurie Byro


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