The way I heard it
she swallowed the coals hot—
that wife of Brutus. You know the one.
Her name now suffers the weight of metal
assembled in burly Italian towns
under the heat of men’s rough hands.

I imagine her as a furnace.
Plain Common as asphalt
in winter, crude oil unburied.
A good girl who did what she was told,
emboldened by a happiness not her own—
a husband’s happiness, a promise

never fulfilled. She ate those coals
as if they could bear proof of her steadiness,
not mythic but still enough to keep
his secrets. Burning the throat
with the sweet taste of death, forging
his deceptions with her muscled frame

disguising disgrace with sympathy.
Mother of the internalized, Eve
of self-degradation—your daughters
trace their eyes with coal,
take on his black-lunged secrets,
keeping their mouths shut.


Andrea Luttrell received her MFA from NYU in 2004 where she was awarded the Spring Fellowship. While at NYU, she served as co-editor-in-chief for Washington Square. She was awarded a Tin House fellowship to attend the Summer Literary Seminars in Russia and recently received a SAFTA residency fellowship through Sundress Publications. Her work has been published in Painted Bride Quarterly, S/tick, and Stirring. Her poem “Housekeeping” was published as a limited-edition broadside by Saucebox Book Arts.