the lock stuck on the attic door,
a bolt slipped into gear for the last
act, the forked dark under the rafters
closed on itself. I took to my bed,
ice pack heavy on lids as shot
driven through holes in the skull
or weight slung from crossed winter limbs.
Someone who put on my old voice from a drained
throat said lines you wanted to hear. Smoke
collapsed around hair that clung
to the brush. Ash drifted sill and floor
from trays left to please empty themselves, the days
and the night you were leaving.
Madeline Defrees is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Spectral Waves (Copper Canyon Press, 2006) and Possible Sybils: New Poems (Lynx House Press, 2006). She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently lives in Seattle. (updated 6/2010)