Rachel Richardson


No one’s heard of the man I’ve invented
to marry, from another parish and all dressed in rags,
no hat on his head and no coat, either.
No one’s heard his walking step, the way his boots
drag against the dirt like steel balls, like his feet
are his binding, like he’s coming for me
against his own bound body. And his body
in rags, my marrying man, his body in rags and his head
clean of hair. No one’s heard of this man or his name
or his family, no one knows his next of kin if he dies.
No one thought to ask at the store who he looked for
or could they help him, my silent man
with his heavy-lid eyes. No one’s heard of him, so
how will he find me, how will he come down our small street
and call for me by name, if he can’t find my name
because there’s no one to help him, and the postmistress
doesn’t give addresses to strangers—how will he
come for me in my father’s house, and bang
on the door, and find me, my body in rags, no coat, my skin
wasting? How will he wake me from my dream
in which he woke me and took my hand
and walked me past the church and the theater,
and told me Say goodbye to all this and I did?

Rachel Richardson
“Fable” is from Copperhead (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011), and first appeared in PN Review, fall 2006, vol 33 no 1.