with lines from “The Robber Bridegroom”
When the right kind of man came along, I woke
in a room stacked with waiting plates, my very own spoons.
The day broke warm on the outskirts of winter. I bathed,
dressed early, cinched my grandmother’s gold on my neck.
Pictures, my brothers laughing. Someone said, You should eat.
Someone said, I will make you a trail of ashes. Me?
Later he’d say he went for breakfast, felt sick, got caught
on the far side of town by the train. The quiet song
of the front door hinge caused my heart to break.
Bare-armed, I waited, one last borrowed room
bundled with flowers and chairs. The organ began,
optimistic. Later I’d say, Let me tell you a dream I had:
the naïve light of morning, my dad’s warm arm,
that red aisle, tether and bridge. A line of fine men
on the altar, him first and hiding a smile. Later
we’d say something showed us the way
in the moonlight, that we walked all night.
The wind had scattered the ashes.
A house standing all by itself. I wandered
from one room to the next.
And here is the finger with the ring still on it.
This poem draws on two versions of “The Robber Bridegroom”: “The Robber Bridegroom,” The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Maria Tartar, trans. and ed., New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2010, p. 129-133; and “The Robber Bridegroom” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, D. L. Ashliman, trans. Read the story here.