Issue No. 7, Winter 2013

The Girl the Gods Let Go
Sadie Ducet

One by one, I saw you, sisters, plucked,
picked out for flashing eyes or ankles,
the thick coils of your hair.
The gods delighted and away you went,
leaving me all those centuries ago.
I arrived each time alone at the riverbed.
Waiting, I practiced my sighs of alarm, gasps of delight,
I trailed my fingers through the water
just so, and sent fleet glances, right
then left, over my shoulders, and…nothing.
No one came. I was not pursued.
It proved a strange aerobics.

So I delivered myself at last to minivans
and pool parties you never dreamt.
Three kids and a successful spouse, a dog,
and all was well, more or less, until
I found my golden corset in the closet,
long buried, and, curious, I tried it on.
It hardly fit. Squashed to overflowing,
ablaze and breathless with memories and armor,
my knife sheathed at my hip, still sharp, but useless
and now needlessly ornate. And then my husband came in
What the heck is that get up?
never mind—just help me take it off.

I wept that night, missing you, missing
the eyes of wild deer in the dark. But now,
at last, a someone comes, cold, blank, to my bed.
I wake to lead-colored bruises. Surrounded by shades
of if and never, how could it be other?
I did not have your graces, sisters, only
clumsy passion and long memory,
paltry gifts. But I have forged myself
within twinned fires of regret and deep
resentment. There are, still, those cold
gods we never name. They need my heat.
They gorge themselves on all my melting tears
and nurse to strength, drinking my bitter milk.

Sadie Ducet’s poetry appears in places like The Progressive, Literary Mama, Midwestern Gothic and Off the Coast, although she never does. Her work is curated by fellow Wisconsin poet Sarah Busse, co-editor of Verse Wisconsin and one of two Poets Laureate of Madison.