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Elsbeth Wofford Tyler
Elsbeth Wofford Tyler has lived most of her life on borders, including those between states and between families, where
shifting expectations often left her unsure of her own identity. In both her poetry and her fiction she strives to follow the
truth of the work, rather than cater to any expectation. Elsbeth currently resides in central Virginia, decidedly far from any
borders, with her husband, four children, and two narcissistic cats. She is within a stone's throw of completing her B.A. in
English, with a concentration in creative writing, from Longwood University.
We were recently saddened to learn that Elspeth passed away on August 31st, 2011 and wish to express our condolences
to her family.
Before The Weasels Stole You

we hunched under the faceted lights, exchanged
carved-stone pendants, yours
a rose-quartz star, one corner broken,
mine a jasper heart. Laces

pinching, my skates too tight, I waited
while you practiced your lapidary, carved yourself
into my fragile bones like scrimshaw, cobbled
brittle edges, fragments fell. Dust
on your scarred fingers. After closing

I wrapped my hands around the concrete
curb, grit beneath my nails, streetlamps
washed our breath, your laughter pale
smoke through small, pitted teeth. You found
humor in my unsmiling face, beauty
in my dry elbows.

Weasels, you said, were the keepers, solely
for what's missing.

The kiss was still and round, your nose a cool sliver
against my cheek, our tongues amethyst. I fractured
beneath your dexterous fingers, pressed to the small
of my back, mended beneath the patience
of your calluses. Weasels watched, crept

tucked away hours and minutes with favorite
cigarette lighters, photographs and letters, keys
to boxes and doors.

I want to tumble my bones, resurface
their edges, remove your signature. I want to
you are stolen, lost somewhere
in a weasel den among
loose stones.
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The Oxfords You Wore To Work

black and shiny as used
motor oil, the laces left trailing, dark veins
across the unfinished wood-tile floor, shadows next to your dirty
socks. Stepfather, I was ten. You called me a tease,

made me call you "Dad," enforced
rules with a twisted-metal
coat hanger against my wiry
back. The stain of your Oxfords
spread there, rainbows of yellow
and blue, withered

Rorschach blots. I couldn't find
sense in the pictures, my life

dark and glossy under your carbon
fingers. My mouth coated with the liquid spill
of your cologne, an oil pan full
where you drained your Cadillac. Pressed

against the faded couch, I stared at your shoes, symmetrical stain,
black-blood laces tangled
with the red ribbons of my pulse. "Our secret," you whispered,
breath laced with Jack, "Who would believe
you anyway? Dirty little liar." Stepfather,
you're a lawyer, after all. Intelligent,

with expensive suits, tailored for your sophisticated
shoulders, a mouth full of shining
teeth, an easy, consoling
Social Smoker

I smoke alone, blue fills
the hollow home / my lungs
inhale / exhale, breathe

arsenic / mother didn't
call on my sixteenth /
I forget her number, maybe

it's changed / haze curls near
the ceiling, furled tinsel
Christmases / remember

the empty table / ashtray
glittering, just decoration /
cigarette's blue filter warm

on my lips / I exhale