Dear Artemisia

Today
I wrote of you.

the deathrush of your trembling hand
a terrible slash of vengeance and silver
that drew a thin lash
of rancid blood
indelible stain
on your tempestuous heart.

Today I wrote of you
and at once you drew away
the winding sheet of memory,
asked me again to remember
the night I became
Diana’s inverse twin,

the blood
of my murdered covenant,
and the seraphic nightingales
that sang to me from the doorway.

I had almost forgotten.

You knew better than to amend
the shredded hope of your juvenescence,
to abide the ghastly concupiscence,
the divulge of wine-stench flesh
into your innocence,
the sacred purloin
of your nethermost.

You kept a knife by your bedside
and with the thumbscrews of his promise
in your fingertips,
cried the truth again
and again.

You did not slash his face
into the shadows,
but pointed your unadorned hand
and called him by name,
immortalized his ignominy
and your own unconscionable fortitude
in every stroke
of crushed petals and blood.

Teach me, Artemisia

how to come to arms
to throw open the drawer
and take hold of my hate
how to paint his face
upon the tableau of history
and seize my own wretched ghosts
as allies for every woman

who sleeps with silver under her sheets.

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