small textlarge text

Suzanne Langlois

Wedding Sestina

Download MP3

Being poor, I have no dowry and so,
in return for his precious ring,
I sit in the attic and sing and spin
golden thread to bind a fine trousseau.
At dawn I climb the ladder to the attic’s trap door,
a thin needle of love pricking my heart.

His wedding ritual takes him to the woods to hunt.
While I measure, cut, pin, and sew,
he melts into the trees, pursuing a white deer.
From my high window I listen for the weapon’s dull ring
and watch for his return, his quarry trussed
and hung from a sapling’s straight spine.

Watching the window, I prick my finger on the spindle
and feel the sleep slowly seep into my heart.
I dream it is myself trussed
to the pole, bound with golden thread I’d used to sew
my dress, my veil, my finger to the ring.
I hear him whispering “my dear, my dear”

as he approaches me, and in dire
fear I flee, my ears full of the ring
of flint on bone. My four spindly
legs fail as an arrow thumps into my heart,
and I am awake, my hands clutching the edge of the veil so
tightly its pattern is trussed

into my skin. His hunt is now a tryst.
He pursues a white nymph and calls her dear;
he binds her to a tree with a golden rope so
she can not flee. The bark is rough against her spine.
When he is done, he brings me her heart
in a small velvet box, like a ring.

Through the window her bodiless song rings.
My heart constricts as if thrust
into a tiny box. It beats wild and hard
as I beat my hands against a locked door.
The hinge gives and I fly from him, spinning
away like a wild wheel, crying “She told me so!”

My head spins and rings with the shouts and wild heat of the hunt.
I spin the wheel, twist the thread around my finger like a ring—
I am sewn into a skin of fear, a deer’s heart trussed in a wedding veil.

The Eighth Day

Download MP3

God drew up a syringe of fire,
flicked it with a fingernail,
and pressed it into an angel’s taut skin.

The angel flinched and made a sound
like night parting around a blade of light,
like all the stars doused at once.

The sun, a tarnished copper coin, tore
through the gauze sky—a hiss of steam
rose where it plunged into the sea.

God withdrew the needle and pressed
his thumb against the puncture.
“Let there be no crying,” he said.

A thin sneer of moon rose
to look, but went away
disappointed by the lack of blood.

Night stretched its arms, a black
velvet mold spreading across the sky.
The stars were a scatter of buck shot.

The angel turned away from God, who had
already turned back to his tray of instruments—
already forgotten the angel was there.

➥ Bio