The Duchess of Malfi

Barry Goldensohn


            Your darkest actions, nay, your privat’st thoughts
            will come to light.
(I, ii)

In another dispensation among the old
withering codes a young American woman
walked as if she balanced a gold cage
of singing birds on a coil of her hair
yet for all her courtly bearing could leap
into song or lunge at a delightful idea
and wave her arms as if she were conducting Tosca.
For all her warmth of mind and hand
she locked in outward piety
her generous sexual hunger and forced down
over her full face a mask without eyes.

Better blindness than being murdered like Malfi,
who, though a duchess and clever as the best,
thought secrecy kept her safe.

BARRY GOLDENSOHN lives in northern Vermont. The Hundred Yard Dash Man (selected poems) was followed by Snake in the Spine, Wolf in the Heart. He is currently at work on his ninth collection of poems.

image: Pierre Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881