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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
                        light
from ordinary candles
floating in water.
 
 
Winter sisters
from the hospital
judge her appetite
her disease
to consume
 
                        sleep
an opiate
when                awake.
 
a slight             hysterical
            mode
 
almost wholly imaginary
her fancies
seen                             here
 
this lady          
occupies
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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