My Criminal Mind by Elizabeth Burk

My Criminal Mind

Our tranquil backyard, by day a scenic swamp
       replete with lily pads, cypress knees, goes darkly sinister

at night. Rain thuds onto our wooden deck,
       deep-throated croaks, shrieks, moans erupt

from our pond. A sudden thunderous splash—
       something has jumped into—or worse—is emerging

from the dark waters. Wind slaps limbs against windows,
       small animals whip through brush, sounds that rattle me,

city girl, living deep in Louisiana countryside, land
       of voodoo and vampires, fifolets and rougarous.

My husband laughs at my nightly terror, cannot comprehend
       why I’m afraid to remain alone in our cavernous living room

with its vaulted ceiling, wide picture window, no shades
       nor bars, no cozy corners to hide in.

Who would come way back here? he asks,
       tuning in to his favorite crime show where a woman

standing alone at her kitchen window freezes
       as floorboards creak and the camera shifts

to something or someone creeping across her deck.
       It’s only a TV show, my husband says, noting my alarm

as if this world is nothing but a safe container
       for everyone’s violent fantasies.


Elizabeth Burk is a psychologist who divides her time between her native New York and a home and husband in southwest Louisiana. She is the author of three collections: Learning to Love Louisiana, Louisiana Purchase and Duet—Poet & Photographer, a collaboration with her photographer husband. Her work has apeared in various journals and anthologies including Atlanta Review, Rattle, Calyx, Southern Poetry Anthology, About Place, Naugatuck River Review, Louisiana Literature, Pithead Chapel, Pank and elsewhere.

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