Ruth Williams

A Hanging Line of Red and White
by Ruth Williams

Their feet danced for a little, but not long. —The Odyssey, Book XXII

Telemakhos binds us, crimps our limbs
till they curve like white, long-reed plants.

He may call us harlots,
but we kept his father’s house.

Now he makes of us a rude count of heads:
one and one and one. Too much.

We strand, a lengthening line.
Off the girl beside me, a spot of red sings.

Her slender hips jangle, sway in time.
She’s a plucked stork, her wings tucked,

neck slung with twine.
Her bloody eye looks out.

Dirt red singes its chorus under my nails.
So, towards my suitor, I cast this crimson.

Once, he moved across my room and
I counted him: a filament of minted light.

So my sheets held one and one, a spot of red
and skin shed. White draped on white.

I was a good maid, I wove good threads;
pulled us tight in a neat stitch.

Now, I jolt and jigger, tug him
from the dust of that great hall.

Sway with me dear,
wrapped in my string.

Do you feel Aphrodite’s kiss?
It glistens our cooling skin.

Her lips: red
and red and red.

Love, do not doubt.
We will be born again as gods.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 4.

Ruth WilliamsRuth Williams is the author of Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, jubilat, Cutbank, Third Coast, Fourteen Hills, and Faultline among others. Currently, she is a Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College.

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