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Miss Borden’s Account of Things

Tiffany Midge

Only the wallpaper—yellow cabbage roses
trimmed with larkspur—can say.
I was of course indisposed during the awful business,
eating pears in the carriage house.
That’s how it went over, twelve stern men,
incomprehensible! A proper lady
of distinction born into a family of textiles and cotton—to think it!

Looking over the damage I thought, how curious,
such winsome blossoms—
the blood—dappled athwart Abby’s eiderdown quilt.
She’d scream if she saw it. Fourteen blows
to Father in the sitting room,
A spectacle, his head lolling about
on the fainting couch like a crushed melon.

In the séance Miss Odiah relieved my burdens,
my misgivings licked clean as a cat.
But I knew the ghosts were talking, voices whining
like distant violins. A dissolve of mist
compromising my agency, telling me what to do.

To have tipped back Father’s bourbon,
ten thimblefuls, a right antidote
to such rancor harbored in my throat,
might have done the trick.
But instead, I took the tea—cheap and plain—
because the Pekoe had been misplaced.
And I burned the dress, an indication
of guilt they said, and took a bath.
Instead, I should have bought a hat,
something with a sash of bright red ribbon.

In the evenings now, on our stately porch
I languish, I wait.
While overhead the geese drag the clouds
like bridal lace, unworn and ruined—
bedraggled debris, such fatal flowers.

Tiffany Midge

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