VillainElle (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1994) : 17-20.
2across the moon and stars, pick a dream /
3any dream. longing here, for her
5splayed over my desolate body.
6empêomflex;chement, déplaisir, une lettre,
7une brune, la mort. she says she
8wishes she was a magician; she would
9get me out of here, keys sewed in her
10palms, she would pull silver from my
11ears, my mouth. she is my last chance,
12I asked her to help me, l need to change
13before I fall. I have killed seven men.
14each time, I flagged them down and I put them
15out of their misery. I would stand by the
16topless bar, by the highway and smile and say,
17hello handsome. hello baby, could I get
18a lift? and kiss them, empty their pockets
19and strip off their clothes. take it all off,
20I said, and shot them dead. Arlene, I wrote,
21you are way too kind / to get to know my kind
22of mind. but if you listen, I will tell you
23where it ended and I began.
25seven marks on the wall, seven shadows.
26I know that I left Troy, Michigan,
27behind me. but the men I grew up
28with interface, brother stepfather
29grandfather. my corner of the yellow house
31clock, a baby doll that cried and cried.
32they would circle my bed, and I buried myself
34from my teeth, my screams! suddenly, they,
35he pushed my hands behind my back and covered
36my mouth. I can't remember, the grass, the daisies
37leave orange silt on my legs and the sky is
38black. the sky, my mother, is a cold
39compress and his tongue his pores his eyes
40are not there. nothing, but the pain and
41that never goes away, I have to stop the
42pain. his low growl, the hair raised on
43his neck, his brilliant teeth. they travel in
44packs, picking her bones, fleece, muscle,
45she is lost and far from home and when she hears
46them in the wind she is afraid.
47I turned mean back then. listen you old
48bastard if you ever touch me again, I'll
49tear you to pieces and eat your flesh. I
50imagine a bloody trail, ear eyelid thigh
51foot that leads to the seashore. taking
52his magic, my magic and I leave, with a dragon at
53my heels and their voices, calling.
54In Florida the living is easy. I pull on
55my stockings dress and stiletto heels; I
56stand on the corners, where the palm trees
57are. their serrated leaves fringe your
58picture Arlene, and lizards hang on the
59windowpanes, I said, do you feel lonely,
60or would you like some company? but it
61wasn't the work, it was their faces,
62destitute and barren. without her,
63I would have killed them sooner, earthly
64words cannot describe how I felt about
66met at the Last Resort when she nailed my slip
67to the bar and we danced until we were breathless.
68why don't you do something, she said, if you
69can't stand it any more, my hate was palpable,
70something between us. I know you can't understand,
71but the first time, seeing him crumpled beside me,
72I just fell in love.
73I became careless and they found me. they combed my
74apartment and found glass cleaner, bullets,
75tattered neckties, but I never surrendered.
76and so, you found me here, in the last place
77I'll ever live, in these pious chambers.
78you touch me through the mesh and bars, and
79wonder at the danger. does your skin burn,
80on contact? I think you are enamoured of
81my history, you wear my death like pendant
82earrings and never ask, I lived in the forest
83once, when I ran away. and dreamed below the
84poplars, in the ferns and moss, it is there that
85I perfected my cruel and bloody skill, and it
86is here I am devoted to the memory. you want
87to save me, so I'm asking you. to slip in at
88night and take my clothes. the shapeless grey dress,
89the embroidered numbers. to cover your face,
90and I will leave, as you, and drive away. you can
91hope and pray, as they strap you into the electric
92chair, but I will be gone. long gone, as the
93smoke plumes from your temples and your eyes bake
94under their metal vices. I will be cruising,
95slowly along the highway, smiling at your grief,
96your error. I never cared, Arlene, and I never will;
97I'm strange that way.
1] Aileen Wuornos: born Feb. 29, 1956, and executed on Oct. 9, 2002, by lethal injection in Florida for the murder of seven men who picked her up as a highway prostitute in 1989-90 and whom she confessed to killing after being raped. Arlene: Arlene Pralle, primary advocate for Wuornos in prison, a born-again Christian. Back to Line
4] arcane: mystery Back to Line
24] The last line in W.B. Yeats’ “No Second Troy.” Back to Line
30] chenille: a “kind of velvety cord…used in trimming and bordering dresses” (OED). Back to Line
33] percale: a “closely woven cotton fabric…with higher finishing than muslin” (OED). Back to Line
65] Tyria Moore, Aileen’s lesbian lover from June 1986 to her arrest in early 1991. Aileen was arrested at the Last Resort, a biker bar in Volusia, Florida. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Lynn Crosbie or the Coach House Press permissions department.</b>