The Fire of Despair
To flux the snakebite I swallowed the whole
Vial of venom. Presently, vapored and fevered, I
Became the queen who lies on her lion-footed couch
Sweating into the light white sheet of day.
—Everyone is whispering behind a thin screen:
They speak of her pulse, her signs of vitality, her blood
Pressure, the awful bolus of its squeezing
Far too much red stuff into far too small a pump.
Now the fires are all gone out. For three days I have been ash:
On the fourth the slightest wind can blow me to pieces:
A scrap of a smile, shred of the has-been-girl clinging
Like remnants of a sail scattered on the blank sea.
“The Fire of Despair” first appeared in New England Review.