Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Always Miss Scarlet: made to burn—satin
train of her dress, and the slender cigarette,
a magic wand in its pearl holder. Her name

like talons. Impervious, sleek as chaises longues
at the Excelsior Hotel where Diamond Bessie
glittered toward death. Always the black waterfall

of her hair (a single picture in a secret envelope).
Always the first to go, but not for this. Wicked
swish of her skirt, long red nails like the women

typing features at my father’s office: brazen clack
and bells to signal each return. New questions
to narrow truth until it fit on three cards. Always,

the diagonal glide through walls, knowing before
I understood the double wick of her candlestick:
polish and gleam, victim and victimizer, knife

and ballroom. Unafraid. Every death resolvable.
Gloved and gorgeous in the pageless library,
the parlor, the conservatory: a memory palace

where she could only remember by entering
the past with her body, gathering the rope
and wrench, gathering guilt before innocence.  

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