Why I Married the House Carpenter by Elizabeth Beck

Inspired by “The Daemon Lover” a Scottish Ballad


A phantom is always easier to chase/The chill always easier than/warm sheets on summer nights. Wrapped in the comfort of your distant interest and cold vows/The ghost of your jawline against the very present curve/of my cheek and I can almost smell you lingering in the doorway/The prickling wind, heavy/with tidal changes, delivering/then casting



I am the anchor, I am the sturdy mast to which you are lashed

Each harbor, screaming,

Each voice, singing,

How could faith outlast and outshout/the mysteries of Gehenna-under-waves/or my singular pearl compare/to the vast jewel beds beneath/Not the venomous sting of waiting/the swallowing sea that frightens/unknown, concealed and hiding in cold hours of contemplation/Instead let me take leave and row to you/Let us find our own savage island and

Terrify each other

Watching for the old darkness in shifts/our sore muscles soothing to the SOUND

of metronomic surf

Your eyes shining from the shadows of pain and moonlight/the undertow of eager hands/I am drowning – here in my chair, my shivers shaking/the thin panes/How many memories before we

Pulse into shards

And it SO BLACK, this sea

Each masthead light, a sulfurous hope/dangling in temptation like the blind beasts


An impulse unaccountable/or, to tear and tear apart/in constant resistance

Unraveling tapestries until my fingers are/slick with the time passing

These ill-started stories are the words I wear/when horizons thunder like the surf

And we are all gazing from the depths

The rain tastes like a harbinger/like choking salt/Yawning before us, the maelstrom

Is each prim neighbor to deny the commerce of siren and shark/blood in the water/blood in our beds

And attend to the soft dying not very far

From shore

Can they not see

Faint but sure hills beyond and beyond


What hills are these

Cloudcast as the stars


“Come to bed” my husband commands

Your small whisper continues/to divide beneath my skin/divide and multiply

And breathe in my shallows


*Elizabeth Beck is a writer who has braved the treacherous Narrows crossing in order to bring you a tale of the sea.  Her previous endeavors have been on display in WRIST Magazine, The Laureate Listening Project, the Washington State Department of Commerce, Creative Colloquy, and most recently in Little River Lit Mag.  Read more about the perils of undead lovers and strange voyages on her website americanogig.wix.com/elizabethbeck.