Ariadne Magazine

Ariadne Magazine

Rebecca Lehmann

Issue One

Descent

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,

Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass

           —Richard III, Act I, Scene I

Now is the winter of our discontent

spake the scheming Gloucester,

and, discontentedly we wintered,

pressing flesh to cold glass

to behold the freezing rain glazed

snapping limbs that crackled

through the night. Snow fell,

and coated the ice and turned

the world nice for a moment.

Bedeviled, we coaxed

the shaking puppy indoors

that dogs bark at me as I halt

by them. That there was no lineage

to keep, even better. We did not

descend from stars or sea monsters.

That a piano hammered madly

from the stereo. That we looked

in the mirror and declared Who went there?

It was us, in masks. No, it was a snarling orb.

No, it was a cold spot. No, don’t let

it touch me. In the basement we gathered

provisions. We were six feet under-

ground but not buried

like the coffins 50 yards away

in the graveyard, our rotting peers.

It appears more will join them soon.

In the mirror, a rudely-stamp’d face,

the lake swallowing up the clouds,

an ice-floe jammed against the beach,

an orb. No. A cold and calloused hand

to grab our feet at night. No. The newly dead,

who are simply whimpering. That I am not

one of them, I press my face into

my child’s warm neck, whisper a fable

that ends, Good night ghosts.

Here are your jewels, your laurels, your sheaths,

your coffins, your sirens, money to pay

the hangman and your breathy wreaths.

About Rebecca Lehmann
Rebecca Lehmann is the author of the poetry collections Ringer (University of Pittsburgh Press) and Between the Crackups (Salt). Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Tin House and other venues. She lives in Indiana, and teaches at Saint Mary's College.