Invincible summer |||

Goodnight girl

Goodnight girl. That was a hard farewell to childhood.
First mother with the gown, news of the ball; 
then nurse, whispering marriage. 
Paris seen drinking with my father; 
introductions, politics.

That ball, my first, and my first gown: Paris, first 
among the guests. Dancing: we, the first couple. 
Then the stranger staring: You? Is it you? 
It was. As unprepared as he, still I knew the stories 
were all about the sweat along my spine, 
his hand held out, that look. 
It would kill me to smile. Him too. Each heartbeat 
pounds the room to silence. Subterfuge 
and farce: we meet in an unseen garden 
say insignificant things and so become 
people we hardly dreamed of.

As such, the friar married us, and nurse
smuggled my new husband in to me like one last toy. 
Goodnight girl indeed. My father’s maiden, 
pierced by young Montague, bucked 
to consummation on blooded sheets 
like any of his mares.
Nurse warned me love meant 
bleeding from the belly for a man. 

Much I cared then, asleep that ringing morning 
nor later in the salt and olive crush 
of my dark husband’s arm. Never did the sun inherit 
better omens from the night.

The stars ground on. And damnéd Tybalt 
bullied, slew Mercutio, whose friend, my half-
demented husband, bled him from his middle 
and down to dark earth. Thus exile 
and the friar’s daft plan.

Two days out of girlhood, alone on my bridal bed 
I mumbled my goodbyes to everybody 
and swallowed hard. 

To wake on stone, gown sticky 
in the blood and still warm arms of my first husband, 
who spilled blood four times since waking.
Small wonder he lies still. I’ll sleep with him again. 
Mine is the first and last belly 
he’ll draw blood from. Here’s his dagger.