In his library above the locked room of his warning
the gold leaf catches light like a wedding band,
tarnished and scratched by consistent wear,
and the hardback’s cover curls inward
like a pair of old hands holding onto the stories
of a lost age.
Maybe all of us are bound.
to cradle such a slim volume to us,
pages specked with questions,
fragments and mistranslations held
by parentheses and ellipses trying to connect.
Maybe we’re all meant to be repainted
in retellings, a name recognizable
by the straightness of the spine
and the titles—The Robber Bridegroom, Blue
Beard, Fowler’s Foul—the key,
the blood, the locked room, dead wives.
Or maybe we are the variations, the search
for the version that mirrors our own—
Bluebeard’s egg kept safe on the shelf,
a key never marked by blood,
our own closet to open, stairs to ascend.
Laura Madeline Wiseman
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of ten collections of poetry, including the full-length book Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and the chapbooks Men and Their Whims (Writing Knights Press, 2013), First Wife (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013), and Stranger Still (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She is the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her poetry, short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, a Susan Atefact Peckham Fellowship, a Louise Van Sickle Fellowship, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and grants from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and the Center for the Great Plains Studies. http://www.lauramadelinewiseman.com
Artwork: Brooke Shaden, “Stolen Library Books” http://brookeshaden.com/gallery/