After the first line of Millay’s Sonnet X,
“Sonnets from an Ungrateful Tree”
She had forgotten how the August night
descends around her brittle, rough-torn edges.
High-definition, lurid dreams—their pledges
nothing less than carnival, than blight.
She knows herself a fugitive from passion,
uneasy at the thought of lovers kissing.
Instead of quarreling, she’ll recoil, fixing
a curse, snake-like, bringing a spiteful season:
—I am September’s burdened tree, befouling
the path. I coax emulous clouds to gather
in the west, their threat of storms’ unspooling.
I roil the tide, send seething spume to lather
spinster isles. Monsoon, Blood Moon concede
their terms. My clouded secret bleeds.