they shook off their covers
and fled. Paper ripples they swam
as if crossing dreams. There was no plotting
in this new world. Their stories far from joined—
the young woman with fresh tears on her cheeks
from the deathly school, the man a future
yet unnamed, a dark handsomeness—they met
as they emerged from the sea.
a broad wandering, a continent of doubt,
as they, too, wondered where they’d
found themselves. In the first climax, delicately tearing
the paper that webbed her fingers, Rochester
took her hand, held it gently, then firmly.
But it was Jane
who followed the western lights,
Jane who pulled him to the stadium
full of screaming strangers, who grinned
as she sucked in the wintry air, who found
two seats at the 100 level, below the glass, Jane
who shook him with her shrieks—
a madwoman’s shrieks—
as a King smashed a Blackhawk into the wall.
So off-balance, so anachronistically
aroused, he loosed her bonnet and pulled her face to his.
The Staples Center rang with joy.
Meanwhile, in an attic
one hundred and sixty-four years, an ocean,
and a realm of the real away, the carp-eyed Bertha
tilts the magic divination box she’s made
from scavenged rubbish. She doubles over in sobs
as the grease-thinned parchment shows
her runaway husband and his harlot,
framed in a crimson-penciled heart.
Pamela Murray Winters lives and works in Maryland. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Unbeckonable Bird, was published in June 2018 by FutureCycle Press.