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An Accurate Martyr

An Accurate Martyr
The extraordinary baggage      
a          collection of ordinary possessions
                        accumulated     since
childhood with
                                    zealous care
her mind
lost its sway
                        manifested       peculiarities
after     arrival
No one could live
in         her       limbs.
“on fire”
                        she felt
“cut to pieces”             under
some dilapidated garment
constant correspondence
from autograph hunters
                                    to answer
                                    in the afternoon
to darken         her room
She had declined
from ordinary candles
floating in water.
Winter sisters
from the hospital
judge her appetite
her disease
to consume
an opiate
when                awake.
a slight             hysterical
almost wholly imaginary
her fancies
seen                             here
this lady          
years                now
remaining days may be days


Author’s note:  This poem is comprised entirely of words and phrases taken from a New York Times article on Mary Todd Lincoln’s declining health and fascination with Spiritualism.  “Mrs. Lincoln’s Health: What is Claimed to be an Accurate Statement Respecting her Eccentricities and Whims.”  The New York Times.  July 22, 1881.  

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