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Lady Absinthe

by Taunja Thomson

She rustles down the path hemmed in

by bare trees, twisted, knotted, whorled

like the leftover limbs of people

blown apart by war, their bones shorn

of flesh & hair & color.


And yet dead leaves whisper & persist

& block sun & sky & rain so that the only

colors lie on ground—shards of pale red/brown

spines—craven hues afraid of daylight

& wind.


She has been called selfish    poison    ruination   

at worst    at best pointless    worthless

blame in a fancy bottle

but behind the glass she has begun to swish

& whoosh, shimmer & crackle, & something else persists—


her shuffle down this avenue of leaf debris

& thorns & darkness, her own sighs

behind her, an opening ahead, & light begins

to crack the wall of dead trees & dance

beneath her feet


and she rushes forward like a woman thirsty

for her own flame, a woman who loves

her sharp color, her fluidity, the way her tongue

chimes & words fly from her fingers,

a woman who chooses


& cherishes her absinthe ways, blatant

as sun, gaudy as grasshoppers.

~inspired by Ferdinand Keller’s “Lady Absinthe (Arcade, Avenue of Sighs),” 1901


t.m. thomson is co-author of Frame & Mount the Sky (2017), a chapbook of ekphrastic poetry, as well the author as Strum and Lull (2019) and The Profusion (2019).  She loves walking in autumn rains, feeding wild birds in winter, playing in spring mud, & bat-watching in summer.  Her first full-length collection of poems, Plunge, was published by Uncollected Press in 2023.

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