Last week we were fortunate to spend time in interview with Millicent Borges Accardi, a poet whose acclaim for prowess on the page is matched by admiration for the examined life she lives so well and so simply.  In the coming weeks, we will present three of the transcendent poems from “Woman on a Shaky Bridge,” starting today with this haunting account of intention and commitment.  While the work speaks for itself, we add ours to the praise Ms. Accardi so justly receives as an artist, a woman and an example of dedication to decoding the mysteries we all face as we halt and go on.


The woman thought she would be good,
making sure he washed,

rescuing black stockings, wood pile
scraps. Finding theatre tickets

and collecting parking stubs.
She thought she would be good

at using his soap. Remembering
not to wear perfume and waking

up to call home. In the hotel,
hiding while the hot water ran,

her heart compact as plywood.
She thought she would be good

at belonging. The bulk of her time
a two-by-four dove-tailed into a corner,

getting the best he had to offer.
She thought she had a talent for being aloof.

On him, she made few demands.
When he was away, she imagined

his heart open, fearless
hands holding a piece of wood steady

while a diamond-point blade cut through.

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  • Scott Cooper June 5, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Wanting “to be good,” and the agony of betrayal, “a diamond blade cut through.” I am left feeling both the pain of betrayal and disillusionment, whether brought about by adultery, neglect, abuse, while also the internal struggle by which to truly “be good” is in fact “being true to one’s self.”

  • sarah daugherty June 5, 2010 at 2:11 am

    In this poem and others in her collection “Woman on a Shaky Bridge” Millicent writes of the complexities of life– relationships, emotions, tragedy, longing, and belonging–in language and imagery that break through to the core, to the simple truths and universals that make it worthwhile reading. This is good poetry: that’s all.

  • Tad Richards June 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    It’s hard to pull off a punch-line ending to a poem, and this one works amazingly well.