FALL RIVER HERALD REPORTAGE, AUGUST TO SEPTEMBER 1892
That might account for the blood stains on the axes.
Their friends admit that things were not as pleasant as they might have been in that house.
Seven out of the nine stories that were reported to the police were investigated, and all were found to be myth.
There was no man lurking within the chimney.
Mrs. Borden was not the mother of the girls and the father was not overly liberal with them.
The funeral services took place at 11'o clock, and were strictly private.
Some stories that have been written about these relations should be regarded as the grossest exaggeration.
A blossom of bone flower, spreading over her face—
The door was found open after the murders, and it appears that no one saw Mrs. Borden for two hours.
Miss Lizzie says she spent the morning of the tragedy in the barn,
The bodies were not moved, tho' they were horrible to look at
Each head crushed like grape
They found no hidden chambers—
The remaining family so shaken by the events, they have been prescribed morphine liberally—
The pear tree's bright plumage—
That afternoon, all that matched the searchers' gaze were boxes of clothing.
SKETCHES FOR A FAMILY PORTRAIT, AUGUST 1ST, 1892
Is all this grief repetitive to you?
I see my stepmother and look at a straw creature.
I see my uncle, fresh from the long expanse
and there are only shadows, heaps of luggage.
I'm spending more and more time in the barn—
its stifle, scratch and warp of floor. From there,
I can see the plyboard of our home, plump droop of
pear tree. Violence dances with us like ghosts. Uncle John's
voice booming over evening meal. This family
filthens me. When trying to escape, I close
my eyes and think of Massachusetts' rocky
coast—which I've only seen once, its seaboard
a slate as silver-grey as my father's dry eyes. Its shore
salty as the coat he hangs up grimed
by the completion of each day's errands.
This is our intimacy, the bond we keep:
I always pass by before he climbs the back stairs.
I am careful to avoid eye contact.
He is careful to keep the door locked afterward.
We wear black veils to the funeral
It is August. Our clothes swelter.
I do not cry and do not sleep.
Beneath the clothes, my body is falling
and they are not here:
I do not grieve
I'm fascinated by Lizzie Borden, the probable lesbian and rich white woman in Fall River, MA, who (most likely) axed her stepmother and father to death in their shared home, August 4th, 1892. These poems, from the collection about her, Blood Box (forthcoming Fall 2019 from Black Lawrence Press), pay elegy to her and the violence of the closet, but also to a lesser extent my father, who passed away as I was writing them. How accountable are we for our grief? What does our violence do to us?