I knelt before you in the woodland dirt,
Rowena, and my first thought was of him,
but when I raised my head to kiss your skirt,
beside your beauty Ivanhoe’s grew dim,
and I was stricken with a strange desire
to trail my kisses from your ankle bone
up to your knee, then rising, ever higher.
I backed away, appalled at what I’d shown.
In fact I had shown nothing. No one knew
from that day he was silver, you were gold,
and everything I did, I did for you,
so you would have the man you wished to hold.
When for myself I was not held by any
man or woman after, could not bear
another’s touch, despite the suit of many
and Isaac’s desperation for an heir.
So if I frowned to see you at his side,
and if my fingers dug into my jewels,
my jealousy was of him, for his bride,
my sadness for the spider’s web of rules
that would not let me tell you what I wanted—
my black curls mingling with your golden yellow:
a secret that you never knew, which haunted
me every night upon my lonely pillow.
Some men protest, on reading of his life,
he got it wrong: the brunette not the fair
Rowena would have made a better wife.
For whom? And this was never over hair.
Anna Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, the Atlanta Review, Rattle and 32 Poems. She has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for both the 2005 and 2007 Howard Nemerov sonnet award, and for the 2007 Willis Barnstone Translation Award. She is Editor of The Raintown Review and of the formal poetry e-zine Barefoot Muse. She gained her MFA from Bennington College and her chapbooks Swimming and Selected Sonnets are available from Maverick Duck Press.