|I tell him I never wear panties on wednesdays
and I can see his eyes flickering towards the clock,
his expression teetering on the brink of disbelief
I know what he wants to ask but his mind is too
busy thinking of cold morning showers and mrs b.,
his ugly pre-school teacher, to phrase a question
so I explain it's because I lost my wednesday pants
when I was little and this is how I commemorate loss,
week after week, it's nothing personal, don't worry
nothing personal, I say, with a wink that has no roots
in childhood, a grin unfamiliar with innocence, and I
settle back in my seat, dip my finger in whipped cream
and he doesn't dare lean across the table and suck,
can't find the words for yet another question, so I say
no, there is no proof but why would I lie, surely not
because I get a kick out of turning him on, knowing
how impossible it is to escape to the men's room,
how impossible to stay, and then I lick off the blob
of cream and answer one last question I read on
his face, roughly running a moist index finger across
his cheek to tell him yes, and that's exactly how much
|your fingers, cold as
snowflakes on my breasts,
like centipedes tiptoeing,
goosebump by goosebump,
towards the peak.
had they rushed in
like an army of ants
on a sugar trail,
i’d have reined them in,
put them back in your pocket,
trapped spiders mourning
|And the ginger leaves shiver, the wood whispers: This is
not about blood, all the little lambs are safe in their pens.
Follow the trail into the copse behind the wounded willow,
paint a picture of the sky on your left palm, press it to the
ground where Angie wriggles at sunset. She will succumb.
I pick up a fir cone, strip it of three seeds, give them baby
names in reverse alphabetical order, curtsy to the tallest
maple, before I cut a heart-shaped hole into one russet
leaf. Gathering odd petals, nine bitter herbs on my knees,
I rub out every syllable I said to him, string them together
into a different story, one that doesn't contain traces of me.
The potion murmurs in a one-handled pot. I stir counter-
clockwise, pause every seventh beat of my heart. Vinegar
trickles from a flask, an orange dribbles red into my hand.
When the tip of the ladle points at three o'clock, I speak
Angie's prayers, beginning with the threadbare letter N.
In a contorted dream, Nigel flails pudgy arms over a mummy.
His heart stops, then starts pounding Angie's blue-black name.
|I - delta pointing east: spring waters
dive into the river where it spreads its many legs - ready for
the ocean, pregnant with a tidal wave. an abyss, suddenly
silent, will embrace you, coax a tailfin from your spine.
II - delta pointing south: summer fires
every firefly that crosses your path will forge a charm for
silver anklets. your feet tinkling in a tarantella, the one
mistakes you for a changeling, burns his desire at the stake.
III - delta pointing west: autumnal earth
a shaggy god will find you in a burrow, call you by a foreign
name. he amputates sundial arms, trades flowery fragrance
for your earthy smell. once more, the scythe will strike.
IV - delta pointing north: winter air
by midwinter, your hair will be heavy and long, wrestled into
thick braids by the selkie woman. your eyes will take on the
colour of raw fish, see in darkness while the white mare bleeds.