Listen to a recording of Elise Partridge reading “Elegy.”Sixty years I’ve lived, hardly a cross word said! (The carpenter found, behind their bed, a crawl-space where black snakes had bred.)
Each of the Ten Commandments, I kept.
(Broom jabbing, she frantically swept
at filth that flowered while she slept.)
No one can ever say I told lies.
(She faded below her cracking disguise,
fixed as a dead-leaf butterfly’s.)
I gave my love to each and all.
(Hoarded in a locked closet down the hall
hatreds muffled by a paisley shawl.)
I never let myself complain.
(Gallons of tears, a wet winter’s rain,
whirled at the brim of the churning drain.)
I had the life I wanted to have.
(She stepped unborn into her grave.)