Then She was Forever


Invisible as night (to let infinity show through)
she stands naked,
does not dare to move. Now,

unruffled and heavy as fishing lead,
the stubborn urge to leap
uncurls again—this spring—as if the world

can remember exactly what’s been broken.
Into papery silence
there are only shadows blowing,

every angle of her variously
a sigh, a stretch,
despair, a space scooped cleanly from desire.

This place is as close as she can get.
Springing and releasing,
off in a burst—a pyre to scatter its scars—

she felt like an angel, transcending events
the way dreams do
from the one clean leap of light,

blessed. Nothing is closer than death
(suicide is the word I say).
Blood stayed on the ground till it rained.



All lines in the poem, as well as the title, are derived from Fleda Brown’s collection Fishing with Blood: ‘O’Keeffe: An Expert Explains Her Work,’ ‘Plain People: Grossdawdy,’ ‘Edward Hopper’s Women,’ ‘Goat,’ ‘Catching Turtles,’ ‘Small Inheritances,’ ‘Bed-Buffaloes, Nose-Fairies, Car-Key Gnomes,’ ‘Central Lake: Impediments,’ ‘I Leapt Over the Wall,’ ‘Maintenance,’ ‘O’Keeffe: She Marries the Photographer Stieglitz,’ ‘Central Lake: Cottage,’ ‘Habitations: Fire and Blood,’ ‘Central Lake: Sprouts,’ ‘A Mother Watches Her Athletic Daughter,’ ‘Keeping Fit,’ ‘Arch,’ ‘O’Keeffe: She Learns to Walk,’ ‘Devil’s Den,’ ‘What Your Eyes Have to See,’ ‘Sky Watch,’ ‘Chicken Willie’.

Paula Persoleo is a 2011 graduate of Stony Brook’s MFA program in Southampton, NY. Her recent work has been accepted by ‘Gordon Square Review’ and ‘Philadelphia Stories.’ She is an adjunct at the University of Delaware, and lives in Delaware with her husband.

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