Poetry: Selections from Francesca Leader

All a Green Willow

After Desdemona’s song from The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice

The passion ebbs; arachnid webs;
The towel dripping on the rack;
He skates his nails down my back.
He stops, and as he falls asleep,
Tear-seeds dehisce, the tear-vines creep—
When he is dreaming,
I feel them streaming
To the pillow . . .
Willow, willow.
Let no one reproach him—
His scorn I deserve.
He was born to be worshipped,
And I made to serve.
Sing all a green willow,
Willow . . .


Too bad, there were no irises today—
You said you’d buy me some, but they’d run out.
I wanted nothing from you, anyway.
No flowers could compensate for what you say—
You love me, or you think you do—you doubt.
Too bad, there were no irises today.
Next we’ll get lunch, and you’ll ask me to pay—
You’ll stuff yourself, and flatter me throughout.
I wanted nothing from you, anyway.

Francesca Leader has poetry published or forthcoming in the Harpy Hybrid Review, Pluiva Litmag, the Stoneboat Literary Journal, and the Clitemnestra Review. Her translation of an ancient Japanese poem was awarded first prize in the Society of Classical Poets’ 2021 Poetry Translation Competition.