national anthology of the best
undergraduate writing 2010

Magritte’s “The Menaced Assassin,” After Hours

Family Ties III, Alexis Brown

Waiting for resolution the players grow tired,

fretful like old moths. The same dim light suffuses the room,

lies as dust on the slopes beyond the window’s fretwork.


Are the mountains blue, or grey? The men at the window

don’t see it, talking in the low chunner of run-down machinery.

The dead woman on the divan crosses her legs and sighs.


She wishes for blue candy, a cigarette, someone

to take up the cloth lying across her collarbones

and wipe the blood from her mouth.


In the gramophone’s mouth the assassin,

slender as the dead woman, engages his reflection:

a deer holding converse with a forest pool.


At the door, a man fingers his brutal club; another,

his tangling net. The trap has been sprung. There is no plot.

The dead woman uncrosses her legs, Penelope unweaving.