The Bittersweet Incense of Their Shadowed Evenings

All is not well, is never well
At Twicetold Abbey.

The wind, a lost child on the moor.
The moon, a patriarch’s death mask.

There seems to be
A wolf howling competition.

Lady Abernathy writhes in her sheets
In a bedroom dark with foreshadows.

She long ago decided
On a sort of permanent hysteria.

Her husband tears out his hair again
At his bloodstained desk.

Each person’s dialogue hangs in the air,
Awaiting the fated punctuation.

A handsome stranger keeps arriving,
Vowing to rescue them all.

He disappears over and over
In the same nightly hailstorm.

And yet, repeatedly trapped in their rooms,
Each smiles in secret.

To know exactly why they are here to happen,
How they will be allowed to end.

(First published in Bowery Gothic No. 8, Summer 2023 – thanks to the editors)

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