It wasn’t my dress that went first,

slightly damp with the sweat of my labor,

but my hair – the flames a branching

antler, a scorching crown. The scent

of smoke released a panic,

but I was steady and fixed as your destination.

When you looked back at the black

cloud of Carthage, you still did not

see me – my throat upturned

to a sky that precedes air and song. Don’t tell me

this knots your heart of oak. Don’t follow

me into the dim hallways of Erebus, trembling

like a thistle with the Fates’ excuses. I am sifting

like a spate of stars, a cooling calm, a queen,

a woman, a warning.