Every so often, we receive works that we fall in love with, but due to limited space, we cannot put them in the magazine. Here is a poem that exceeds our limit for poetry, but we loved it so much, we decided to share. Thank you Julie Israel for sending “Eveline” to us! All of you may visit her website at http://www.julieisrael.com
by Julie Israel
The clouds a brew and darkness falling, one night I paced the graveyard, stalling
Where youths had grouped and aimed their boots at a yowling shadow under pines.
I quickened my step, halfway stumbling, and yelled and chased and threatened grumbling
When that velvet creature crumbling under kicks did my mind define—
‘Leave it be!’ shouted I; the youth did flee and mind define
A cat coal black and half-alive.
On this of nights, All Hallows’ Eve, I thought it were not wise to leave
The object of omens to painfully cry—much less of course, were such thing kind—
And so I took it in my arms, its frightened form rife with alarm
Its claws outstretched to do me harm or resist being confined—
And across the grounds it tore my arms to resist being confined,
Black as night and half-alive.
And when we, a pair, had reached my home, its desperate nails then ceased to comb
And rather tried my cottage floor—though wary, now benign.
I poured some water and meat retrieved, and of a sudden I conceived
Of the rose for whom I live bereaved as the clock struck the hour nine—
I recalled Eveline, her hair and eyes at the hour nine—
How dark they were when she alive!
Surely it was that shade obscure which shone within the black cat’s fur
That did thus plainly me remind of raven eyes and locks so fine
Belonging to my darling dear; but three days more upon a year
Have passed since love I buried here and to the graveyard did resign
To tend the gardens Eveline, and love and lilies did resign
To lend so long as I’m alive.
Memory of her in shadowed smoke consumed me till against thought broke
A shredding sound of sharpened stroke—a sound so frightening, I’d opine,
Its dragging were not of this world—and with all the blood inside me curled
I bristled and abruptly whirled; but it was only the feline
Scratching for some meat to eat—nothing more than the feline
Surely so hungry as alive.
With some displeasure did I then note the trails upon the wood it wrote
Where nails had razed the floor in stretch; and though upset, I did consign
That such was nature of the beast, and left it to its saucered feast
While steadily my thoughts increased of my passion’s ember, Eveline.
Not once in red-lipped porcelain sight did I remember Eveline
So vivid since she was alive.
This ghost I took with me to sit and stoked a fire in the pit
Whose warmth by which I reminisced in the chair where I reclined
When then the clock broke thought and lore by sounding eight the hours more
Though having rang not long before to mark the evening hour nine—
And I an icy shiver made, recalling that the hour nine
Had been her last hour alive.
But fool! Weren’t it only token that the clock were some way broken?
Why this terror, why this frenzy, why such dreading of malign?
By recent dark, it must be six—the clock, no doubt in need of fix,
Was surely only playing tricks upon this brilliant phantom bind
Which Eveline had o’er my mind tonight—a lucid phantom bind
Tempting the dream she was alive.
I drew deep breath and regained composure, thinking unease had come to closure
When once again the sound of knives put jump and shudder in my spine.
The cat again was pulling paws across the floor and flexing claws
Scritching, scratching with each draw and in the wood there carving lines,
The etch work as precise as headstone letters: carving lines
That herald slumber, and not a life.
‘Cat, my nerves you too are raking!’ said I, and set about to making
An opened chest its bed, thinking it would cease if to a pen assigned.
There cat I placed on piled clothes, a nook it seemed not to oppose,
For the kitten curled and tucked its nose with neither purr nor scratch nor whine;
Down it laid as the clock rang seven times with neither stir nor whine
As if in sleep eternal, though alive.
Now having found this first solution, I thought to check the revolution
Of the clock upon the fireplace—perhaps it only needed wind—
But what there was upon its art was reason for bewildered start:
As breath on glass a haze imparts, so too its face had foggy shine.
But wherefore creature breathing? I tensed to think this foggy shine
Could not be from a mouth alive.
Could it be the heated stream from fire below that made the steam?
The blush, of course, must surely be the heat and hanging cold combined.
This I calming entertained when screeching shrill a scratch sustained
Like nails upon the window pane as six chimes answered to its grind—
Alas, it was a tree on glass, and I was rash to fear its grind—
A sound from fingers not alive.
O curse the clock and backward count! Surely it was on this account—
This measured, hammer madness jarring—I could not tame this heart of mine.
I thought again to wind its back, perhaps some cogs and gears unpack
But now upon the breath were tracks in five thin slit and scraping lines
And the clock was tolling five alike, its face fog-marked with scraping lines
That looked as though from hand alive.
“What devilry is this!” I cried. And silence bare all that replied.
A sickly rising heat possessed me, and sweat upon my face outlined
The blood and fright through body churning—a nervous fear like hellflame burning—
While trembling, my thoughts kept turning to my lost—my Eveline.
The clock agreed by nod four times; this fever had my Eveline
Possessed when she was last alive.
And in this dizzy humid state there came anew a sliding grate—
But no branch brushed the window pane, and cat stirred not in bed assigned—
Instead it seemed the sound explored some place beneath the wood floorboards,
Making horrid earthly scores—oh how I hoped it gnawing mice!
When three times rang the clockly gong I prayed the sound was gnawing mice
Although I pictured hands alive.
This ghastly thought of course appalled, but then, the fever had recalled
The buried thought of Eveline, in all bed-ridden, ill decline:
Sweat-soaked sheets and matted hair, soft cheeks alight with raging glare
Till all the color went from there, and she from bed to case enshrined.
At two chimes I beheld in mind my Eveline in case enshrined
Yet blood-red lipped, though not alive.
What beauty still, dark tresses fanned! I kissed her paling, clammy hand
In last farewell and closed forevermore the lid on love divine.
And then, as though with rude unrest, the scratching clamored loudly, stressed
And startled me against the chest; the cat in turn gave startled whine;
The clock decreed a doleful one whilst cat gave startled whine
And wrenched my heart madly alive.
The scratch sounds now were flailing wild like tearing nails across wood filed—
And these I raptly traced to find, accompanied by shrieking cry:
The chest had fallen closed at crash—against shut lid the cat made slash,
And fought its latched entrap with thrash—and when the clock hands had aligned
At twelve to count a mourning knell, I knew those clock hands had aligned
For Eveline—she was alive.