I came to the door and knocked, and waited; there was no reply
though I knew he must be within. The rain

Our young lady, about to follow, cast a glance in my
direction. I, by the briefest sign possible, advised her of my
assent. No further warning was necessary. She bent her face in
toward the light
that direction and proceeded out of my view.
Recalling my promise to her mother,
abundantly, as if in terror
I admired the proportions of the room, its absolute symmetry, as
if the mirror showed nothing but precise reversal which might, in
the end, be set to rights. No other shadow
was visible, an inexplicable darkening

For, there
Thereto I had set my hand, ordering such events as might
have befallen me.

instead of returning the perfect halves of the brain
as we imagine it may be

Nevertheless, hearing my cry, she wandered farther from me
and I had all I could do
here, catching our reflections in the mirror.
And yet I supposed that cruelty had been a part of his design.
I was helpless now, and on the verge of despair; quoting those
tears I sat alone in the kitchen and waited. He was long in
coming. I had nearly decided to depart when the door swung open
at last, and he made his appearance. The candle
bent nearly double
and all the light there was
The curtains had not been drawn.
"I have no wish," he said, "to wound thee. I leave it now to
your care and good keeping. Let this be fair warning."
There we parted. Another had taken my place and I removed
my lady and myself
( someone I did not know, a younger woman from the town)
made her way to another part of the country
"There," said I, "we have come to a pretty pass. I can't
wonder that this wearisome wildness must result in
killing the panther
whatever it was she was said to have married
and furthermore, there may be consequences more appalling
than deprivation of one's life
we were sadly informed
Yesternight, at a little past eleven, I heard

looking up from my task
the sound of the key
and yet it must be that nothing entered
I was disturbed and rose from my chair
finding nothing within
and yet glancing towards the hall seemed to see a figure there;
it was my own, of course, which I ascertained in a moment.

Nevertheless, it gave me quite a start. I own I had to count
who surround
myself as foolish as those around me; I had proven myself quite
as susceptible
then bending said throw all this to the
wind despair of it it does not become you

It seemed to me then that we had stumbled upon a clue of
greater significance than we might easily be able to unravel.
I had taken care, in my concern for her health, to provide
proper nourishment and a restful environment; still the edges
of her passion would break out in fits of gloom and silence.
We gave her a wide berth in those times, since we had been
warned not to provoke her.
Still, she creeps furiously toward the center of the attack
and will not
even when she knew what he was

as if she willed it, and those around her were helpless
to improve

the lapse. Then, of course, she descends. And
all the world becomes a ghostly mirror in which
she wills any face but her own.
But now it seems to us as if the fire had gone out of it.
This story, any, rises to account for it. To say here she
rests uneasily, a face in the window. And why, and by whom,
all the parts of this insubstantial fiction. That one may, over
and over
how she may try on a name, it is proper clothing
or none at all, ill-fitting
her garments torn, her hair lank, she took up her abode elsewhere.

she, whether she would or no
shrunk in her contraries
she rode toward the door
unraveling the secret of her parentage
as if it had been her fate
pronounced by whatever mask
at the beginning of the story

We like to think, sir, that we are in charge of our lives and
destinies, but does it not strike you as strange
how often another hand seems to guide us in directions quite
opposite to the ones we might have thought to choose?
Thus, in hoping to spare her, I had not reckoned with
(the way that sentence was finished)
(I was trying to hear her voice, as if,
in a way it were my own)
(something, we, follow it, trailing along behind it)
I called her and called her. Perhaps she heard me. Perhaps she
chose not to respond to my cries.
I am now rather advanced in years, though looking back I
cannot say with any certainty that I would have done anything

In the beginning, we had thought to converge at a point within
the tale. There was a piece of

loose sky, hanging

In the person of the witness
who is that person?
whose part does she take?
she, or not
or what, or who
stands aside
what mistaken identity

in each meeting thereafter she appeared as one fleetingly
in a glimpse only, and from a distance
and how was I to know I had not been her
what, then, narrowly ruled out as another, a life then in which
one would play no part.
We may take the thread of narrative and wind it through our

April-May, 1981

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