Monica Ferrell

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.