When She Goes Dark

By Jeannine Hall Gailey

The world won’t know it.

Her blonde hair distracted you with light,

her clothing moving with the slightest breeze,

and you never took her seriously anyway.

She had hysterical blindness; she couldn’t keep

the pounding out of her ears anymore.

She had nightmares and walked in her sleep.

Her limbs moved without her, unaware.

Her fist gripped a knife. Her toes on the bare wood,

silent. They’ll never know what hit them.

You were always going to blame her, anyway,

when the city lit up with flames,

when plague took body after body.

It’s always been her, hasn’t it,

opening up a box or riding a dragon,

digging graves, stealing the silver.

There was no reading her eyes,

shimmering, gray as the dim sky,

the desperate seas. She has seen you

tear her apart limb from limb. She has seen

you light her on fire, she has bled to death

from rape, she has eaten the apple you gave her,

she has been shamed and beaten,

she has been murdered and left naked in the mud.

She saw when you laughed at her remains.

She has seen what you have done

to her body, world, from the very beginning,

and what kind of woman walks away

from that? You’ll never see it coming,

a knife to the throat, a slip of satin,

a scent of gardenia, a soft voice,

no hint of the coming darkness.


Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the VillainessShe Returns to the Floating WorldUnexplained FeversThe Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. Her work appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.