Pretty Maids All In A Row

after Servant

Rambles past ringlets, ruffles, rouge to you, 
end of the queue, interviewed for the show,
television lady forgets your debut —
segment you are someone she chose to know.

Her fascinations are fleeting and slight,
provincially dressed princess one night.  Lives
she catalogues on oak shelves in plain sight. 
Decades of ingenues in her archives,

slices of stories.  She is the knife — whose gleam 
reflects fresh flesh it will serve up like cake 
projects to select television screens
with a benevolence you will mistake 

for a momentous meeting when you were seen,
vying for plastic crowns, by a tv queen. 


This week I lost my cat. In a sense it’s a totally related to Servant or this sonnet except that it affects everything in my life. I thought he wouldn’t end up in this column but it actually sort of makes sense that he does.

My cat was only just over a year old, a baby really. We watched this show Servant together as my cat was very attached to me and loved to be by me when I was writing or watching TV — if I did those things in bed (which I love to do). He loved to be in bed.

Servant, the Apple TV show I’ve been writing a lot of sonnets about, is about a woman grieving or refusing to grieve the loss of her baby. During most of my writing about this show, that grief has been a stranger to me but since my baby cat died unexpectedly (after a bladder blockage, emergency vet procedure that he did not survive), I am faced with Dorothy’s dilemma — feel the grief or try to deny it and fill up that space with other things, replace it. I am feeling it for sure.

This sonnet I wrote is when Dorothy, a tv broadcaster, first meets the strange girl who will become her nanny. This meeting is monumental for the little girl who is in the big city of Philadelphia from her Wisconsin small town for a child beauty pageant. Dorothy won’t remember she ever met this girl; she’s one of decades of supporting characters she’s collected on DVD’s and kept on a shelf because they contain one central key figure, herself. It will be a very pivotal meeting though and have joyous and dire consequences for Dorothy. I wanted to capture this meeting in a horror story.

(The girl in the sinister beauty pageant picture, by the way, is me. I feel like I’m in a horror story now. I’m glad I’m writing poetic horror and excavating these dark feelings. Thank you for reading them.)