American Tragedy

This lake has a woman’s name.

On the drive up here, upstate New York spread out before us like an old wound, she told me of the dream she keeps having. In it, a woman bleeds onto a man’s kitchen floor. One of her thighs is raised. Her lover stares from the next room.

I know this woman is good, she said. How? I asked.

She cleans up after herself.

Later, I watched a couple walk into the cottage behind ours. He had a lean, wolfish face. She followed close. Their ring fingers were both naked. I thought about the girl later, whether she winces whenever they pass a wedding procession.

I think there are no great tragedies anymore. Instead, we stumble into dark houses alone, consider ex-spouses, catch shreds of fur and skin in our throats. It’s like when she asks me if she’s gained weight and I tell her that no, she’s beautiful.

I walk down to the water alone.

Donora Hillard is the author of the poetry collections Theology of the Body (Maverick Duck Press, 2008) and Parapherna (dancing girl press, 2006), as well as the lyric memoir Bone Cages (BlazeVox [books], 2007). Her fiction, lyric memoir, and poetry have appeared in Common Ties, Pebble Lake Review, and The Pedestal Magazine.