Saturday matinee. Today she’s lashed
to the tracks. Because she ran off
with the mustached man. The girl watches
him labor over her body, and she does not
think about the train. The thick rope
is so beautiful. She is bound and full
as a hope chest. Inside, the pies
she made from the birds he’d shot,
her white ice skates, the line she dropped
from her window. The line that ties her
now, back to her mother and to the quiet
books, the belladonna pressings
in their leaves, dried larkspur from
the cellar ceiling. Her mother’s hands
pressing her gently to the ground,
the tight bows tied. No cursive narration.
And he’s tried to unbind her, but the day’s
grown cold, his fingers, cold, and the sound
louder down the line. It isn’t until he mounts
his horse that she starts to yell through
the bloody rag.
In the theater, the piano man
plays an explanation. There’s a house on fire,
a bordello girl, there are gold-rush prospects.
She’s a low-hanging peach. She’s never seen
the lake in winter. She’s never skated out
a figure-eight while someone watched
for her to fall. But she’s down, and the train
comes, and the music stiffens. Quiet now.