A Femicide in Quandry

*Author’s Note: This was a poem I had written quite awhile ago.  It is based on Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” and a scene from The Wizard of Oz and framed as a newspaper article to startle the reader into considering the vast changes that were going on to the role of woman as I saw it (and was later confirmed by my readings of G. K. Chesterton).


By Melanie S. Reed (1998)

“Who is this? and what is here?

And in the lighted palace near

Died the sound of royal cheer;

And they crossed themselves in fear,

All the knights at Camelot;

But Lancelot mused a little space;

He said, ‘She has a lovely face;

God in his mercy lend her grace,

The Lady of Shalott.'”

– Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Tuesday night in Quandry,

by the river, under the foundation,

another body was found.

Shoeless feet and the staggered red/white color

of the stockings got deeper red

as your eye traveled north

from the bottom of the West wall.

“We’re not sure sure why the toes

were curled up that way,

but it’s certain she got the house in the divorce,”

Said the officer assigned to the case.  “It’s the same MO.”

Indeed, the house payments

had fallen upon her

so as to look

like another necessary

but all too familiar murder….

the kind where what is killed is the nature of a thing.

Rather than just admit another woman had been discarded

for a shiner model to impress the other knights,

an inquiry was made,

and though it was a little late in coming

the burden was finally lifted from off her

and dumped into the obit column:

She was not a witch.

Just a woman who was not

allowed to be the homemaker she wanted  to be any more.

The account went on:

“The mail had stopped.  The phone was disconnected.

The computer ran full time. This reporter noted that

the house smelled: a male-tinged odor

of oppressive independence,  the result (at least for her)

of an obligatory diet of a career choice that had never agreed.

She had ‘gone to work’ like a man until it had consumed her finally.

Nothing of the former woman

was left but a discarded crewel embroidery kit –

half done Japanese figures in bright threads,

yellowed recipes stuffed in cupboards,

and in the bathroom, a mirror cracked,

now caulked with toothpaste and spit.

The body was later taken down to the morgue

for questioning by a coven of pathologists.

“A divorce paper cut to the heart,”
divined the Head Coroner, with grim satisfaction.

“The result of an incision made to the side of each beat,

slitting what was vital.”

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