The day before the murders my uncle visits, seeped
in dust from the cattle farms out West.
Face bristled, muscled arms bulging. The maid—
who Emma and I call Maggie though her name is really Bridget—
picks up his sullied bowler from the hook he flings it onto.
Over dinner, he tells us: “Iowa is a venerable baptism!” And:
“I feel reborn by the work!” He asks for $1,000. Maggie
watches from the eaves— Mrs. Borden handles the cooking
on nights with company, so the maid hides
her presence, avoids Father’s
hatchet face and shadow. She corners me
after dinner, asks again to leave—“it’s not the work
that’s the problem,” she says, “it’s the dreams.”
Do I feel pity? Officially I say
nothing, but in private I hoped to sit down, hold her
hand, tell her my own visions. The trees are dying
in the heat. Red splattering everything.
And moving towards the front door,
I almost lose myself. Entering home
like an omen, it emerges: a husk
of person who looks like all of us,
but acts like us as well.