No more gloomier monster … and scourge sent by the god’s wrath
ever mounted from the black stygian water–flying things
With young girl’s faces, but foul ooze below,
Talons for hands, pale famished nightmare mouths.
—The Aeneid

She agreed to drop charges against her father, come
home. Imaginary charges, her mother said. But not
imaginary friends. They invited her. To Craigflower Bridge.
That’s a pretty name. A name that sings. I’ll buy a stuffed bear
for my foster mother, she said. But first, a party.
Missy invited her. Down Reena’s arm a path
of needle marks. In and out
of foster homes. Three schools in one year. Ask
who molested her. At fourteen, she could not get clean in any bath.
No more gloomier monster … and scourge sent by the god’s wrath.

Home sobbing. An ugly,
they called her at school. Bearded lady.
Her twelve-year-old body
heavy and large as a woman’s.
But then she got friends. They invited her.
The ones who set her hair blazing like fiery wings,
kicked her, burned cigarettes on her forehead, slammed her face
into a tree, broke both legs. Broke
her back. Nothing deadlier—see what dark brings—
ever mounted from the black stygian water–flying things.

Flying rage? Were they all girls, enraged? No,
Warren was there. He lived with his father
in the trailer until his father left.
When Reena dragged herself across the bridge
(she still could walk) Warren followed. Was his blow
so fierce it left boot marks on her skull? No,
that was Kelly’s. Stay home Reena’s uncle said.
But she left to meet those girls, pretty ones all in a row
with young girl’s faces, but foul ooze below.

Kelly cracked her skull. Who held Reena
under water? Let her up, one said.
No, she deserves it.
Why? Kelly asked when the judge
sentenced her. I didn’t kill her, I just beat her.
(Followed her, finished her off.) She muttered oaths.
No remorse, no goodbye?
No mourning? No ceremony or beating drums
or offerings from north or south?
Talons for hands, pale famished nightmare mouths.

Across a Brook by Lisa Wright

Across a Brook by Lisa Wright

About Carole Glasser Langille

Carole Glasser Langille is the author of four books of poems, two collections of short stories and two children's books. Her last book of poetry, Church of the Exquisite Panic: The Ophelia Poems was nominated for the Atlantic Poetry Prize and her last book of short stories I Am What I Am Because You Are What You Are was nominated for the Alistair MacLeod Award for Short Fiction.

About Lisa Wright

Lisa Wright writes: "The Abstract Expressionists are my foundation for technique and freedom of expression. My art is non-objective and has many layers. I work in acrylic and mixed media. I paint intuitively by reacting to an experience: storms, a brilliant sun, the sound of wind in the trees or interpreting the depth of a person’s gaze. Movement, power and drama can be found there. Composition and design ground the painting. I create so that you will experience something personal inside my painting. Your unique perspective is the art." Lisa's work has been displayed in the Teichert Gallery (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax), Rhubarb Restaurant Gallery (Indian Harbour, NS), Andrea Redmond Studio Gallery (Seabright, NS). Her solo exhibitions include Something Personal, Andrea Redmond Studio Gallery (Seabright, NS), Trellis Café (Hubbards, NS), Bedford Eye Care Centre (Bedford, NS). Group exhibitions include the Teichert Gallery (Halifax), Swoon Fine Arts (Hammonds Plains, NS), The Halifax Club (Halifax), Studio S (Bedford, NS), Aspotagan Arts and Crafts (Aspotagan, NS) and Crossroads Artists, NS.

3 thoughts on “Reena

  1. Janet Barkhouse

    It’s hard to comment on this powerful poem. It vibrates with pain. I will be thinking of it, and feeling it, for days. Why do some humans feel nothing for others, and some write so feelingly–like Virgil and Carole–that it hurts? “Across a Brook” is an amazing match for Carole’s poem, too–“I create so that you will experience something personal inside my painting”–brilliant.

  2. Anna Quon

    very moving poem Carole. I can still see Reena’s picture from newspapers and magazines when she was killed. horrifying.

  3. Maureen Hynes

    A really finely-crafted poem, Carole — emotionally haunting and technically impressive. So apt, that quatrain from the Aeneid, really emphasizing the continuity of brutal treatment of other humans has endured. Chilling. And my heart aches for Reena all over again. Thank you.


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