Charlotte In Waiting

"l'ange de l'assassinat" (the angel of assassination)
—Alphonse de Lamartine, Histoire des Girondins

Marat bleeds out in rivulets of rage
revealed at last; their primal color bright,
indelible, & damning on the page
as accusations spewed into that night
his scrawling fed so well. Now ink alone
is not enough to satiate its dark
starvation any longer: spirits flown
from everywhere the Terror found its mark
have clotted in the corners, craving breath
& blood instead. His final list of names
condemns the serving-maid who brought his death,
the founder of this feast still unashamed.

Alone among the ghosts he made, she waits
four days to feed them. Join them. All of this
is on the canvas somewhere like a kiss
she left behind, a footnote to her fate
encoded in the humblest of things
white-hilted blade, white quill. White pure as wings.

—after Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Marat

—Ann K. Schwader