"The Brooklyn Enigma" Speaks:
The Authentic Life of Mollie Fancher (1848-1916)
Kryssa Schemmerling

All I’ve ever seen of the great bridge is what’s visible through my dormer. A web of stone and twisted wire two fingers long, strung up at dusk like Chinese lanterns. A thread of light, all that tethers me to the world beyond this borough, beyond this chamber papered in cabbage roses. Each day husbands, fathers disappear across the river. They call Brooklyn City of Women.

At sixteen I took to my bed and have remained here fifty-one years. I fashion wax flowers in a trance. My body subsists on air, freed from nature’s functions. They call me The Fasting Girl. Plucked from the nuptial embrace, I’ve whiled half a century away on a cracker, four teaspoons of milk, two of wine. As a girl my features were described as indicative of thought rather than execution. Yet look what I have wrought: one hundred thousand perfect blossoms. My brownstone is a bower of wax.

I spoke to Mother in Heaven last night. Spiritualists and Clairvoyants gather at my bedside. Doubters call me Hysteric, Dyspeptic, Somnambulist. They accuse my maiden aunt of slipping me food. They don’t see how time passes through my room without touching me. Aligned with earth’s electromagnetic currents, I burrow deeper into eiderdown. My wax flowers grow tinier and more perfect each year.

Kryssa Schemmerling's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Arsenic Lobster, The Rufous City Review, The Cortland Review, Mudlark, Poecology, 2River View, Big City Lit, Silver Birch Press, and The Same. Her chapbook, Iris In, will published this summer by Broadstone Books.