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About to Burn Her Dress
Where has she been this sweltering day
since she paused beside the horsehair armrest and interrupted Mr. Borden’s nap
then glided by the kitchen where the maid
was plunged into a sticky business—canning— and picked her way out to the shed?
The nimbus clouds cut open.
The sluice dulls her scarlet apron. Crystals pitter patter on her nose.
Or is the cloudburst something that like so much else only her farfetching imagination sees? Fall River slips away
—the shed’s wood floor, the ax, the open door. Lizzie’s willowy, an orphaned flower in the yard and done with papa’s snores from the settee.
Empty eyes raised to cold heaven, she stalks the plank that keeps her long skirt from fresh puddles on her way back to the house.
(Originally published in Fourteen Hills, 2012.)
Mary Gilliland

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