SPRING 2013 (Issue 78)

Adam Tavel

Cora Taylor's Letter to Joseph Conrad Following the Death of Her Lover Stephen Crane

                                                            June 7, 1900

Our coda was a brown hansom clattering
Badenweiler lanes in rain. For seven nights

shadowed behind a flatulent Trakehner
Stephen rippled when I took

his seed into my mouth. His herringbone
trousers slid off and on his waist

without his belt unbuckling. All week
his ribs and hips shone like a dancer's.

Mornings I watched his pale feet flush
in the healing springs. My chiffon blouse

became his hacking kerchief which
he insisted I bleach though russet stains

of course remained—in our hotel basin
I rubbed my knuckles raw scrubbing

wretched blotches. Joseph, my fingertips
grubbing at your purse-strings

is bathos, but every mark I scrimped
was spent to ship his body back.

Two days dead and the Berlin review
of Active Service that arrived last night

calls the novel schlecht. How I loathe
these bratwurst scowls. I implore heaven

but know not what for. No god can tell
our blood apart on rags between my legs.