Saturday, December 4, 2010


Three Poems

By Kristina Marie Darling


She describes only the Norwegian variety, forgetting the French. Their intricate clasps and long silver chains.


Again the milky-eyed beloved. Her sense of etiquette revealing itself as innate, machine-like. Would compare her heart to a the inside of a clock. Its radium dials.


Here Friedrich's presentation of the necklace, with its glass bells and tiny silver flute, departs significantly from Austrian custom. And still the luminous buttons on her shirt.


Now the locket as palimpsest. As Latin inscription.


When she opened the box, a dancer twirled to the same Tchaikovsky suite. A heap of charms and unsightly pearl earrings.


If the artisan were to realize. Friedrich wandering the fields.


It was then she considered the array of miniatures. In all of them, a portrait. And each of these an ode.


A circle of violets etched into the walls of the jewelry box. Only when she lifted its lid would the gears in her heart begin to turn.



arch. As in the curved part of her foot, which was adorned with a slightly more delicate fabric. Near the end of the decade, diminutive heels also emerged as an appropriate accent. This unraveling of decorum became the source of her great persuasive abilities.

coquette. One who chooses attire without considering its inevitable interpretation. In this case, her shoes were intricately laced and visible beneath the hem of a blue silk dress.

desire. Synonymous with the strange or unknowable. Consider the graceful arc of her ankle, its glistening rows of lacquer buttons.

emboss. To impress upon. At the time it was expected that the floral pattern around the toe remain hidden from view. This widespread anxiety gave way to a preoccupation with her evening slippers, their endless variety.

instep. In some circles considered the most seductive part of the Adelaide boot. For a series of illustrations, see Appendix B.

slipper. A reminder of the lakeside. Her luminous hair.

tapered. Defined as a shape that fades or becomes narrow. Along the coast such embellishments became increasingly popular, and so her attire fell out of fashion.




1. An unpublished vignette, in which the heroine believes her voice is trapped inside her mother's gold cigarette case.

2. Within the foyer, an odd stillness. Upon finding him she hid the laudanum in a cabinet of dried violets and tiny silver spoons. Her unmindful stare.

3. "It was only after that I realized the gravity of the situation. Out of my jewelry box the most delicate insect emerged, its ominous buzzing."

4. Stifle:
                  1. To quell, crush or end by force.
                  †2. To suppress or withhold.
                  3. To kill by impeding respiration; to smother.

5. In a little known version of the myth, Penelope realizes that her household has been usurped by the maids. Each disconcerted by her new posture. A chorus rising from their cool white throats.

6. Again the hidden Faustian motif. Despite numerous descriptions of the empty field, one senses the ubiquitous presence of the sea.

7. Denouement. Translated quite literally as "the action of untying."

8. This film version of Gaskell's North and South (c. 1986) depicts Margaret as an elderly widow. Although its nameplate was shattered during production, the statuette remains among the museum's special collections.

9. See also The Cambridge Companion to English Literature.


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of Night Songs (Gold Wake Press, 2010) and the editor of narrative (dis)continuities: prose experiments by younger american writers (VOX Press, forthcoming). Her poetry criticism appears in The Gettysburg Review, The Boston Review, The Colorado Review, New Letters, and other journals. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Vermont Studio Center, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

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