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.