Maenads at Mardi Gras

by Eileen Brener

I ride the sun’s first pink ribbon,
landing in the city care forgot.  Where
water, like trouble, isn’t seen, but felt.
Where poverty and wreckage are
bandaged away for an annual madness.

I join others: maidens and mothers,
housewives and hags, staggering
already in the golden noon. God-
intoxicated, Dionysus-kissed, vines
around our heads, we roam
the streets, practice savage rites,
dance to feral music. Woe to any
man or animal our talons
claw.  Frenzied, we fall
in doorways, drunken,

Ash Wednesday’s shadow
bleeds into the long six weeks
of Lent. Our ravings done, we
limp away leaving the city our
filth and madness. We bristle
with a new decorum.

As an appellate court staff attorney in pre-IRP days, Eileen Brener wrote proposed opinions and occasionally taught—“lord help me!”—legal writing.  Now, thanks to IRP, she has left lawyerly letters for fiction—dark stories and light poems.