She used to take care, put milk on her skin as if it took.
At her ears, black or silver pearls.
I couldn’t keep up. Her ferocious calm.
She saved lobster husks cooked clean.
Pebbled, conical shells from the sand.
The old docks creaked with whelp and cray.
She placed them on the sills when the flesh parched.
The salt jar grew smooth from her hands.
When he came to town that fall, she boiled away.
What was left was rope, ash. Later on I’d push
the scraps I had together, cobble a map of signs to porous scrim.
It didn’t matter, I supposed. The summons or means. I suspect it started
even before he’d shown himself here chopped but healing in his dark suit,
no precious tie. He was all elbows and eye sockets.
He walked low but with his head somehow up above our homes.
He stared down. She couldn’t hide. Didn’t want to,
I knew. I loved her but could not follow her to rot.
At night she perspired a deep smell, sugary, unsound.
Her dresses frayed. She retched in the green beds and howled at the sea.
Newts came, choked the stormdrains. The day I left the house
with only my shirts and my red clock she was clearing
all the basement shelves, scraping out their silken nests.
In case company comes, she had said. Drawing her hands
across her damp neck. I headed east toward farms.
Walking, then taking charity in cars.
Behind me funnel clouds and bones.
I kept going. My sun rose, burst.
Linda Wojtowick is a writer from Montana now living in Portland, Oregon. Her current project is a collection based around the theme of animal, vegetable, mineral, wherein poem takes its name from a famous racehorse, a type of tomato strain, or a mineral. Off the Coast recently nominated her poem Mr. Stripey for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has also appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, The American Aesthetic, Unbroken, Clementine Poetry Journal, The Prompt, Minetta Review, Ink In Thirds, The Communal Table, Aberration Labyrinth, Eyedrum Periodically, The Slag Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, and Visitant.