I Only Am Escaped Alone to Tell Thee by Howard Nemerov
I tell you that I see her still At the dark entrance of the hall. One gas lamp burning near her shoulder Shone also from her other side Where hung the long inaccurate glass Whose pictures were as troubled water. An immense shadow had its hand Between us on the floor, and seemed To hump the knuckles nervously, A giant crab readying to walk, Or a blanket moving in its sleep.
You will remember, with a smile Instructed by movies to reminisce, How strict her corsets must have been, How the huge arrangements of her hair Would certainly betray the least Impassionate displacement there. It was no rig for dallying, And maybe only marriage could Derange that queenly scaffolding - As when a great ship, coming home, Coasts in the harbor, dropping sail And loosing all the tackle that had laced Her in the long lanes... I know We need not draw this figure out But all that whalebone came for whales And all the whales lived in the sea, In calm beneath the troubled glass, Until the needle drew their blood. I see her standing in the hall, Where the mirror's lashed to blood and foam, And the black flukes of agony Beat at the air till the light blows out.