by Leah C. Stetson
As I sit here on the brink of doom, upon a stool
Before a vanity of sorts, a cracked mirror reflects
My mutilated gaze, a ghostly vision, but no fool
I shall know joy, what he intended is circumspect.
First, I came ‘alive,’ or rather, electrified, but I won’t
Argue the point; I could resist this lucky curse, instead
Rummage through my overnight bag, if I do, or don’t
Deny it, either way I’ll crush these fears or never wed.
Oh, these irksome tears free the grave-worms from my sockets
He draws me out like fluid from clouds, celestial, not unlike
My gift to him: a tiny glazed globe, which turns in his pockets
I literally gave him the world, and he navigated the Rhine!
What remedy of science unmingled this barbaric match?
Upon this, my wedding day, in these tortured environs,
Fixed as fate I will take him as he is, articulate wretch,
Who studies literature and writes essays in the dungeons,
Eloquent and persuasive, his magic eyes say it all to me.
I must now rehearse, unhallowed acts to be our vows;
A truce between duty and certain darkness, oddest dowry
He demanded a ‘bride’ and Dr. Frankenstein obliged, how
That mad-man soothes his creature’s nightly nightmare cries,
Like a father to a child; I did not dream this, a life-mate of clay.
I’ll promise to ‘stay,’ listen to complaints (a multitude of miseries)
Cling to his embrace and mend his bandages, soggy from decay.
Although loathsome, skin like lichen on a rock, he’s not without
Softer traits, at least in moonlight, when it tricks the eye, a mirage;
His galvanized nature will sustain me, his wrinkled lips, no doubt
Will touch only mine, a constructed being, his little fiend-forage
Designed, the perfect revenge to accompany interchanged parts,
He shall be at once my greatest danger and unparalleled destiny;
We will leave this tower and travel with a gypsy entourage, start
A new world, our guests will toast to ‘gods and monsters,’ a litany
Of abominations put in better light. I’ve made a list, hypothetical
Terms of endearment—to sound them out on our honeymoon:
“Oh, unhappy dearest,” and “My sorrowful love,” or less trivial,
“Big debonaire daemon,” which I learnt from Elizabeth, soon
To arrive and help me put on my dress, a tattered mess,
Stapled sail cloth from a fishing vessel (could she supply
Me not basic taffeta or gauzey-eyelet lace?) I have less
Than twelve hours to make do; if the gown be blue, my
Love is true. Another piece of wisdom from this pretty book
“For Brides-to-Be,” I’ve gathered lily-of-the-valley to mask odors
Even though the author warns that the poisonous wood flowers
Repel men (the writer heeds, ‘yet excites their seed’) I will know
That soon enough! He will probably call me “Friend,” and bleat
Perpetual notes, urging sympathy, not unworthy, possessed
With a dizzy sense of foreboding (the townsfolk, our retreat)
And bristle at relaxing until we reach a safe exile, our love-nest.
Are we bound for the ‘land of mist and snow?’ The alchemist forbid
Me hold a pen lest I record any such perverse account—thus, what
Could I do? And I, who cannot fathom a single line of letter to rid
My cousins’ dread, since they already mourned my departure, sought
Peace. Yet, I must regain composure, brush these root-like tendrils,
Tangled as papery leaves, swirling in static whorls, Saturn’s vortex:
A cosmic storm above my brow. I lean to inspect the fine, immortal
Lineaments—routes along a sentimental map that delineates my sex.
My gigantic groom will unveil me: uncommon mold, I will cool his rage,
Endeavor to raise his spirits and tame that misunderstood nature, imitate
His distinct species; I am neither his plaything nor idol of uncertain age—
Oh, he spared me many hours of lonely degradation when he did animate
The lifeless heart of this pre-determined woman! Instead of doing harm,
He conjured hope, a dismal diamond in the rough, my divine rose garden.
I will plant the bud in his pitchy mind: all my designs. I do not want to alarm my king of spades, but I shall occupy my gangrene-thumbs with that burden.
Surely my husband, even while he drives the sled, will come to cherish
The level to which I stand, though not nearly to his stature, I persevere
In the harshest elements, yes, and I possess equal parts, will not perish,
But provide opinion and maintain autonomy of thought! I am clever.
Now that I’ve satisfied myself with reasonable intent to let
Myself be married, this balmy air revives me—sea urchins,
Sirens lull me into a forcible fantasy; I am utterly besotted.
Besides, with this hairstyle, he’s the least of my concerns.
Leah C. Stetson writes poetry by the flash of frequent thunderstorms next to a Maine pond, a black ash seep, and a vortex. Her woods look like something from Chronicles of Narnia, or the setting of a Stephen King novella. Leah has taught English for Southern Maine Community College for ten years. Her writing has appeared in Wicked Alice, Arsenic Lobster, Omphalos, Red Ochre Lit, Off the Coast Literary Journal, Wolf Moon, Sea Stories: the Littoral Issue, LILA: Literature of Los Angeles, and New Maine Times. Her “Strange Wetlands” blog on WordPress was mentioned on Maine Public Radio. She holds a master’s degree from College of the Atlantic, and is currently a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary PhD program at University of Maine studying the dark side of Romantic ecology.
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