These young women will last forever, posed like greyhounds,
trapped in the silver crust of the frame.
You can’t tell one from another, the breed is so pure.
They will never run. Each one aloft
on a frozen wave of white cotillion lace
to resemble marriage, to resemble fate.
I remember July sun pouring down
in a prickly meadow, and a garter-snake skin
laid out like fairy lingerie on a stone wall.
This was Connecticut, there would be a stone wall.
Crickets were scraping marrow from the day.
I was young; I’d been alone for weeks.
I painted the meadow morning and afternoon
trying to capture the crackling sound with my brush.
I was reading “Oedipus Rex.”
I understood neither the snake skin nor the play.
"Your life is one long night," said Oedipus
to the prophet, Oedipus, who saw nothing.
Oak trees rustled in drought. In saffron grass
small creatures skittered. There came a day
when I said to myself, “I should prefer to sleep.”
Small planets tasted dry and bitter on my tongue.
And two days later I woke. Alone in the creaking barn
at dusk, not knowing what day, what month, what year,
but feeling the haul of earth rolling on its way.
“It is not your fate that I should be your ruin,”
the prophet said. I moved my arms,
my legs, I unclenched my hands,
and stood up dizzy from the cot. What was to come
would come in its own good time
outside the frame. The moon was rising
above the hill, a shy wind gathered force,
and trees, in their black silhouettes, linked arms.