I knew, you see.
I knew all along
what I would find
when I opened that door.
There was not one surprise
in that chamber of horrors.
Nothing among those women,
mutilated, tortured, dismembered,
bleeding from open mouths and gashed necks
eyes blue with frost and decay
flesh seething with maggots
vulvas shredded and stinking,
filled with shit,
nothing that I had not seen before
on the news or
at the movies or
in old black–and–white crime scene photos.
I knew all along what I had married
and so you may wonder what others have asked,
why did I bother to open that door at all?
why did I have to look?
Why not just kill him and be done with it?
Why bother with that old charade,
that predictable pantomime
of lock and key, egg and bird,
blood and bone?
Why not garotte him on our wedding night,
poison his champagne,
put a bullet through his head
immediately after "I do"?
Why not spare myself the sight?
I could say that I was acting in the interests of justice
that knowing is not enough,
that one must have evidence,
that which can be seen.
Or you might think that I held out a shred of hope,
that I loved him
and needed that final unveiling
to open my eyes.
But I tell you, they were open all along.
The truth is that the truth
was behind that door and
the truth shall make you free.
The truth is that I could not do it alone;
alone, I didn't have the stomach and I needed
the stare of those dead eyes,
the second smiles of those slit throats,
the strength of those shattered bones,
the sharp edges of those bloodstained teeth
the blistered muscles to drive my arm as
I brought down the axe
in an unstoppable arc.
I needed those smothered voices in my throat
for that final scream
as the metal split his skull.
An eyeball popped out of his head
and I needed those bound and broken feet
to crush it under the heel of my boot.
That is why they found me where they did,
behind the door with my predesisters,
trying to stick them back together with blood and honey
and needle and hair, stitching the wrong legs
to the wrong body
to the wrong head
bleeding, monstrous, legion, together.
About the Author:
Veronica Schanoes, winner of the William Carlos Williams Prize from the Academy of American Poets, is a writer and scholar with a particular interest in myths and fairy tales. Her poems and short stories have appeared in previous issues of the Journal of Mythic Arts, as well as in anthologies and magazines including Interfictions, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Trunk Stories, and Jabberwocky.
Copyright © 2008 by Veronica Schanoes. This poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.