for my mother on her birthday

He was taken away when we were but newly joined, stolen away while I waited in the cooling marriage-bed. With time the pain grew less and memory fainter. My name was whispered no longer among the market stalls; no sly glances trailed after me as I walked in black to the wells.

Though I was cast-off, an uncertain widow, still I was young, and still had I all my fresh blooming beauty, and all the nicety of mind that tragedy breeds. So he came, a stranger, while I yet wore the veils and the ashes, while I yet lamented in the house of women, bearing gifts, speaking gentle words. I was alone. Who was I to refuse his advances, who had been pressed by beggars in the street for my divorce? All politeness he had, and winning ways, and it is not fit for a young widow to live ever in the wailing house. I tasted his words, and found them sweet.

And the scales fell from my eyes, and with anger my husband judged me, and called me wanton, and so I ran into these hills, where the red that fills my eyes may rival Dawn herself…