Samantha Pious

Mrs. Danvers and I

put out at dawn aboard Rebecca’s boat
and, sails bent on, un-moored and set a course
south by southwest about the Roseland Coast.
We made good time to Coverack, where we docked
and purchased fuel, rations, tools, and twine,
then, casting off again, tilled hard alee,
and, battening down, made ready for the storm.
The lighthouse, thankfully, was burning bright.
Rough seas and foul. Cabin sole awash.
By miracle we rounded Lizard Point
which, having sighted steam north by northeast,
we had determined, rashly, to accomplish
that very night — though ancient mariners
had warned, first laughing, then in grave concern,
it might not be attempted on their lives.
We shortened sail. Hove to. I slept
as soundly as one could, and was awakened
past daybreak, to clear skies, the scent of ham
and eggs, calm seas, and Mrs. Danvers’ kiss.
Once underway, we put about and stood,
stood, steady as she goes, for Llangollen
or rather up the Channel and the Severn
toward Gloucester and the Cotswalds where we came
to port and land. Abandoning the boat,
from there to Birmingham we went by train.
We must have looked a sight, we two, alone,
our windswept hair, our salt-stained, still damp clothes,
our faces wild with staggering from the sea!
From Birmingham we caught the east-bound train
toward Holyhead, alit at Ruabon, and thence we strolled,
like ladies, newly combed and freshly pinned,
along the winding lanes toward Llangollen.
The village, then as now, does not impress.
We took a room in town and dined alone.
Next day we searched for lodgings. There was one
quaint cottage we particularly loved,
almost a ruin, lonely, overgrown
with roses, vines, and mosses … In the end,
we had not funds enough to rent the place.
We chose a home in Llantysilio
three miles off and, winter fast approaching,
began the work to keep each other warm.

Samantha Pious is writing her dissertation in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her first book, A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2015), offers a selection of translations from the poetry of Renée Vivien. Some of her other translations and poems have appeared in Adrienne, Mezzo Cammin, Queen Mob's Teahouse, and other publications.