Elizabeth Dodd


Weeks of little rain have left us
sticky, sullied,
while the leaves all give up early.
Mid-September and the stands
of sycamore drop brown, curled palm-prints,
skittering and clattering the whole way down.
And a woman wonders
how her life can be her own.

This is the evidence: rape,
and its attendant isolations, beginning
with the quiet moment in her sleep, before
she caught her breath to scream,
before she woke to the stale, late-night
heat of August, his knife beside her head.

Unpredictable, unforseen.
And as the watcher alters the particle's course,
the universe contorts, or shudders, and something
delicate has changed.

Over town the air
continues heavy, humid, laying its weight
on the back of the neck—
and, for the second time this week,
a woman sits up frightened, listening
beyond the windows.

I am tracing the path
of the particular, a woman I knew named Mary—

In that one moment when she looked
across the blade to his face, they were reduced
below the elemental: woman, man, knife, the arc
it could have cut. Imagine it:
the improbable, now, skulking in the shrubbery
or just down the street. Or,
there's a man walking home from work, late,
and in the almost-empty sidewalk, he sees
a woman falter, square herself
to meet a stranger's eye—
and, understand, this is all he can find
to give her—
                    he crosses the street
to leave her way clear.

© Elizabeth Dodd



Books By Elizabeth