R. Nikolas Macioci: “Edna St. Vincent Millay Is Dead”

Edna St. Vincent Millay Is Dead

Her legs buckle at the top of the stairs.
Her heart, the timepiece of hell, stops.
She cannot watch the fall
because her mind is stone black.
Fingers no longer grasp air.
Her lifeless body jounces down each step
and crumples at the bottom in a drift
of blue nightgown and matching slippers.
For eight hours her broken beauty lies
undiscovered. The nearest neighbor lives
a mile away. She no longer hears owls hoot
in the Berkshire Hills or the scrape of
October’s yellow leaves claw the window.
The key turns in the lock of the back door
The caretaker, James Pinnie, enters
to start the evening fire. He ambles
down the hallway, turns the corner
into the foyer and discovers her face down.
He feels for the pulse, touches her
still pallid flesh. Shock of discovering her
beneath layers of silk compels him
to call the coroner. “Miss Millay is dead,” he says
into the phone. “You mean the poet?” he hears
on the other end. “Yes. The poet.”
The coroner arrives, lays his bowler on the side table,
bends into his pronouncement of finality.
The two men stand silent as they wait
for the undertaker and family to arrive.
A sudden ray of orange dawn spreads across
hardwood floor, stains the end of her
wealthy manners and luxurious decay.


R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as nine books: Critics and judges called his first book, Cafes of Childhood, a “beautifully harrowing account of child abuse,” but not “sentimental” or “self-pitying,” an “amazing book,” and “a single unified whole.” Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 2021, he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net award. More than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including Chiron, Concho River Review, The Bombay Review, and Blue Unicorn.

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