These three poems by Sarah Lilius explore the anguish often endured by women who are trapped, either by their own doing or another’s, and yearn to be set free…
by Sarah Lilius1
The Weeping Woman Always Waits
I listen to La Llorona
and think of you.
We kiss death until
I’m black in the eyes.
My feet, the bottom of my cotton
dress, are wet
but my hands are in the air,
dry as an accident.
There were two sons in my arms
now I’m left with a melody.
This song between my ears pulses
folk magic and dead, dead.
What concentrates on La Llorona,
different version like different loves,
catches the scent of a spice
I’ve smelled before.
I hear La Llorona with stars scraping
over my head,
pushing my hair gently away
from the madness that’s become,
that’s residing in the bones of
beautiful women everywhere.
They skirt the dirty floor
with dreams of leaving.
Hurry Sweet Violence
This world looks like wedding cake, perfect little man/woman in their finest perched atop sweet icing. It was no accident when it fell to wood floorboards, bride and groom horrified, they place hands, faces against spongy goodness, purity in raspberry filling. There’s nothing to find in layer after layer. Lurking music halts when the bride wails like a violin played by a child. We wait for the melody to settle into the air, a little lie. She walks fast against the dark sidewalk, her satin heels, white turns dirty. She waits for a catapult to throw rampage into her wavy hair, assault between her teeth, small bones, fast clenching pebbles in the darkness of her artful mouth.
Ways I Drown
In the glass cube it seems irrational, speculative about why I’m in lukewarm water anyway. Liquid that’s not warm enough when it enters my body through my mouth, personal cave. The bottom of two lungs is the end. Water that can’t turn back. Stalled magic. I’m not mad. What I need to survive kills me every time. He can watch me through the clear walls. I’m a sour cocktail he sips then sets on a side table. I want to be an exception, to swallow the key this time, to just leave. This trick benefits the audience in their plush seats, popcorn on the floor. They never clap. They stare as the water drains onto the burgundy carpet. The solid glass box thumps to the stage and I’m dead another night.
Sarah Lilius is the author of five chapbooks including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017) and Traffic Girl (Ghost City Press, 2020). Some of her publication credits include the Denver Quarterly, Court Green, Tinderbox, Fourteen Hills, Boulevard and forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. Read more from Sarah at sarahlilius.com.
- Header art by Janelia Mould. [↩]