The Duchess of Malfi

Barry Goldensohn

Your darkest actions, nay, your privat’st thoughts
will come to light. (I, ii)

In another dispensation among the old
withering codes a young American woman
walked as if she balanced a gold cage
of singing birds on a coil of her hair
yet for all her courtly bearing could leap
into song or lunge at a delightful idea
and wave her arms as if she were conducting Tosca.
For all her warmth of mind and hand
she locked in outward piety
her generous sexual hunger and forced down
over her full face a mask without eyes.

Better blindness than being murdered like Malfi,
who, though a duchess and clever as the best,
thought secrecy kept her safe.

Barry Goldensohn lives in northern Vermont. He is the author of The Hundred Yard Dash Man and Snake in the Spine, Wolf in the Heart and is currently at work on his ninth collection of poems.
Originally published:
April 1, 2019

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