Poems: Troy Falling and Christina’s Reflection

A poet and writer of thrillers, Candice Hughes ’86 holds  a Ph.D in Anatomy and Neurobiology from Boston University School of Medicine and works as a consultant to the health care and pharmaceutical industries.  While at Mount Holyoke, Candace was poetry editor of Pegasus and a winner of the Ida F. Snell Poetry Prize.

Over the past six plus years, she has turned her focus to fiction. Combining her background in medical science and creative writing, she has completed a paranormal thriller plus a biotech thriller and is hard at work on more novels. Read about publishing and life in New England on Candice’s blog: www.candicehughes.com.

Troy Falling (September 11, 2001)

No one noticed Eris
throw down her golden  apple
amongst the wind birthed dunes of a lonely desert.

Perhaps it was a sand storm,
causing women to pull their veils tighter,
driving men into backrooms
and fostering distraction.

No one noticed
when the clean shaven men
dressed in Brooks Brothers casuals
sauntered past security guards and
buckled themselves into their tin horse.

No one noticed
that they offered no Helen,
cherry lips parted, brown eyes gazing up at Paris—
Mon Dieu,
there was neither love nor even lust.

Blood lust, insha’ Allah,
is enough to launch a ship.

No one noticed
so busy were they
with counting, dealing and planning—
three pieces of silver can take you far—
no, no one wanted to stop.

Oh, but they all stopped—
watched on giant flat panel TVs—
as Troy was devoured by
lurid orange flames,
lapping over her towers in an orgy of hatred
that even then did not burn itself out
but instead slunk away in the swirling ash
as the sun tipped
below the bloody horizon.

Christina’s Reflection

With apologies to Andrew Wyeth

Why do you impel me
with sharp mewing cries
like an abandoned child?
To where could I run?

There are no boundaries—
no other place—
yellow stretches the horizon—
golden yellow with pricking straw.

Each shaft I have grasped and named
and with swinging scythe in hand
felt it go slack—my body
bent against the burning sun.

Mornings I beat down the dough—
watched it rise—moist and yeasty—
baking bread drew noisy children
tugging at my skirt.

Now—I lift my hands stiff and empty—
now—silence save the wind
and the crying in your cracked walls.
Be quiet!

House—be quiet!
Let me crawl to some dark corner
where I can pluck out from you
the pieces that are myself.

This world has absorbed me—
yellow, brown and grey.
What will remain?
What can I tear away?

My flesh is earth—
is solid clay—
The sky a brilliant azure
Thick and heavy—
it presses my shoulders down.

When I cannot rise—
shaking and grey—
the earth will devour me.

Then later the grass
will breathe me out
and azure I will gaze
down on some other Christina.

Lying (A Mugging)

I am watching myself cry.
I’ve heard this happens when you die.
I am close.
In my veins, my blood is pulsing
against the steel blade pressing
into the skin on my neck.
I do not let it wreck
my concentration.

In each direction,
I am measuring distance
with exactitude and persistence.
I am measuring spaces
that still bare traces
of our love.

Twisted sheets on the bed,
a twisted face hanging over my head.
I am counting inches from corner to window.
So many questions, how to winnow
them down.

How much impact force can a human body survive?
Which bones can break yet the body still walks?
How long after impact before shock sets in?

I am watching myself lie
while I try
out endings.
I am lying well.

Standing naked in Hell,
lying gives me time
to ponder the crime
to recalculate the force of flesh
on pavement fresh
blood is what you will find
I see each plan fast forward in my mind.
Outside, I am crying
and speaking
creating possibilities
doubts, uncertainties
I conjure
a Savior
so powerful I believe myself.

Suddenly, with a jerk
and a nervous smirk
the knife moves away.
My eyes do not betray
my lies, the minutes tick,
I wait feeling sick.
I can hardly breathe out here.
I need to get back
inside my body, gasping from lack
of oxygen. I am suffocating out here
where the air is as thin as a knife blade.