Today — June 22 — Clear now, but thunderstorms
in the afternoon
I have spent time at the bottom of our swimming pool
watching mercury bubbles flee to the surface.
is this what it felt like when you died?
Second Date — December 5 — Cold and rainy
That seafood restaurant with the aquarium wall.
Silent and blank, you picked at your food.
You leaned over the table, away from the tank
as the grey sharks trailed bubbles past your head.
Are you afraid of the sharks?
I asked. No, you said,
the water. My father drowned
when I was eight.
Third date — December 17 — Chilly and clear
Parked at the lake. Steam from our breath
mixing with the neon over black water.
So brave! I lead you, hand-in-hand to the end
of the pier. You trembled, but only when we dropped
hands to feed the ducks scraps
of good cheap Chinese food. Eat the duck,
you stupid duck, you laughed
as they fought over the tender bits.
Fifteenth date — February 12 — Indian summer
Lake Ponchatrain Beach, escaping Mardi Gras.
In your lap, your arms around me,
our toes teasing that surf, we faced the grey swell.
I kept my hands behind me, in your cut-off shorts
working that swell. The rush of water. The rush of
blood. You tensed with the grinding tide.
Still, the waves beat like the pulse in your toes
and you stickied my hands with your trust.
Just after I moved in with you — May 8 —
Hot and cloudy
A whole weekend jealously horded in Pensacola.
Just us. Dog-swimming hesitantly through crystal waters—
always in view of the shore. I called to you and you swam to me,
on the floating pier. I rewarded your bravery that night.
We made love in that sticky sugar beach, until the police—
oh well. Five steps down that long silvering pier.
Will you? So sudden. But again, you asked, Will you?
The ring was pearl and opal.
Our wedding — September 18 — Damp and windy
In Bay St. Louis, on that brown beach with the gazebo—
your parents' brown beach. We were barefoot in the sand.
The foam still upset you. So like the froth spilling out
of your father's mouth. I don't think I could've done this
without you, you said. I shrugged. Maybe if you were Dennis Rodman.
You took a flute of champagne for courage and walked down to the sea alone to poke
at the froth with your toe. Our brothers built fires on the wet sand—
we leapt the flames and dove into black water.
Our lease expired — March 31 — Drizzles
Bought the house with the huge swimming pool.
Eight feet of crystal waters, vertically.
Like Pensacola, cement sugar beach.
Chlorine is nature's spermicide, you laughed.
No foam, just us. We swam every day. Foam noodles
and inflatable loungers became your favorite marital aids.
At night, the hot tub steamed over the porch windows,
and melted daiquiris sat forgotten on the windowsill.
First anniversary — September 18 — Strong
The water was an interrupted mirror in Mobile Bay
and our boat was white with canary and crimson sails
trumpeting—out of sight of shore. You faced the wind from the prow.
You were Poseidon. You were Leonardo Di Caprio. Never let go, Rose—
I shoved you in. Hair flying in the waves, you swam
back to me. Why'd you let go, Rose? And you pulled me in.
Our last night of drunken love-making—tequila kisses
dissolving like sugar cubes into deepest sleep.
Dawn — September 19 — Still waters
Inch thick chain looped around your ankle, padlocked,
trailing two anchors—
everything so heavy. I had to throw the anchors overboard one at a time.
Then you, tequila still on your snores. The water burned your nose sober.
I could see it on your face. You understood.
All crystal before you fell into the dark.
This is my gift, all my work. Everything
for that moment before the silence. You died a God,
Today — June 22 — Thunderstorms
I will leave the pool. The sterile silver bubbles—
the dancing surface of water and light. I have met someone new.
Nothing like you, darling, nowhere near your greatness.
His name is Richard. He is afraid of heights.
Admit Date: 02/08/1998
Lucille was admitted to Rosewood following the slaying of her second husband.
She was found not guilty of the murders of both of her husbands by reason
of insanity, and sentenced to Rosewood for the duration of her life. A
year later, she hung herself with scraps of her bedsheet. This poem was
written near the anniversary of her first husband's death. She adamantly
refused to write about her second husband's murder.
K. P. Hereford, M.D.
Primary Therapist: G. Sellers
Additional Case Workers: Garret, Swain, Richard
Security Level: High
Psychopathy (antisocial personality disorder)
solo therapy, medication, art therapy
Notes: Lucille hung herself on the morning of June 21, 1999. Prior to
her death, it was the opinion of her psychiatrist that she was really
Lucille's death was ruled a suicide by the coroner on June 30, 1999
K. P. Hereford, M.D.
Workers: Garret, Swain, Richard
Austin, Texas is the most inconsiderate
place that I have ever lived. I moved there from Kenner, Louisiana to
attend the University of Texas at Austin. I was literally racing Hurricane
Katrina when I left. Three months later, my poetry teacher (who knew where
I was from) assigned my class to write a poem from the perspective of
the widow of a drowned man. If looks could kill, I would have promptly
spilled his bleeding viscera. I wrote this poem, which was more psychotic
than grieving. I want the reader to know that all the places that Lucille
describes were damaged or destroyed by Katrina.