For the Wife of Alexander Wood by Leigh Camacho Rourks

A parenthetical reference, a
scientist’s cautionary tale: the
first person to have died from an
intravenous overdose was his wife.


I imagine wind that morning
in Edinburgh / rain / air thick,
smoky from chimneys;

I don’t know the date / her age / even
her first name / what he called her, when he called,

only his needle, with its pistons / joints / screws,
its delivery of morphine hydrochloride,
elegant piercing, maybe a shaft of light
caught through a slit in the curtains, its

glint / curves / angles as it pricked
her flesh, again / again / again,

only her pride in her husband,
his fame (his name / their name known
in England / America / the world),
only her willingness

to twist the pieces / to make the machine / to take
his morphine / to stop the shaking / to feel the warm
climb her arm, her face, her brain / to force a wanting
body still / to grow this need / to need
all, all, all the time.

She is recorded
in the bruised.

Recorded in the pocked
and purpled arms
// her arms //
of the women still dying.

caught / snagged / snared / sewed
into the fabric of her story with his needle.
Women / Women / Women / Numbers
at first prescribed then just described
weaker, needing things / soft, needing things
accumulating since her death, who
etched / kept / remembered / buried

her in their soft, broken veins.


LEIGH CAMACHO ROURKS is a Fellow at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her work has been awarded the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize and is featured in a number of journals, including The Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, PANK, TriQuarterly, and Greensboro Review.