|from MAGPIE TALES|
Long Black Veil
“She walks these hills in a long black veil,
visits my grave while the night winds wail...”
She could never herself weep
above any man’s grave for so many
bad nights, unmindful of hailstones
and wind wailings. Where’s the woman
who would? Still, she wonders who
wrote this song, who set it roaming.
She’s glad to be done with her own
bad nights drawing her out
where the wind can whip
even the slightest of lacy threads
wild at the edge of a shawl. She
had thought it was flesh to flesh
she wanted, long as the nights lasted.
That was before she pulled back
from the heat of him seeking her own
and saw limbs thrashing outside
like nothing that she could recall
ever hearing a woman sing.
No wailing romance in that vision,
only the locust leaves hammered
by lightning to quicksilver
tongue-shapes that silenced her.
How dare a woman walk out
into such revelation, much less
set it throbbing to music
that’s even now winding its song round her,
length after length of it, her hand
reaching out for the door handle?