“Waltzing out of it, in oyster silk”

 

 My sleeves are an open tin.

I mean it like it is — like it sounds.

You wouldn’t even recognize me:

opera-length,

quellazaire held like a spear

held like a periscope.

 

You wouldn’t even recognize me.

 

And before —

before was just a side effect: skirts trailing

with the sound of masking tape.

Bitten tongue. Mouth full of blood.

The little things.

 

(Imagine — to miss these things. Taking

hors d’oeuvres from a tray

inlaid with pearl and missing things!)

 

Straighter…

Straighter….

Corset-raised.

Both hands full of gloved words.

 

I did as I was told.

Then nothing.

Then nothing.

Then nothing.

 

Langdon House

 

When Eliza played the spinet

for G. Washington, who sat, rococo, on the yellow

chair in the yellow sunlight drinking Gunpowder tea, olive-

colored with a lemony aftertaste, was she thinking

 

of the Raleigh in her father’s shipyard

(ending up in Portsmouth, England) or of the elephants

brought down for ivory sharps or of the candied orange peel

in the covered dish on the mantel or of the six houses

 

with Piscataqua-patterned balustrades? In the 1950s Rosalind

Franklin discovered the double helix in a smeared

and shadowy image, like a hallway, and her male colleagues

won the Nobel Prize. All anyone knows

about Gov. Langdon’s wife:

he called her Betsy. She was “tolerably handsome”.


Katie Hogan holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of New Hampshire, and lives near the New Hampshire seacoast. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ragazine, Pure Francis, The Light Ekphrastic, CRATE Magazine, Damselfly Press, Paper Nautilus, and Arsenic Lobster.

The title “Waltzing out of it, in oyster silk” is borrowed from War Music by Christopher Logue.