Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Villain

A pile of bones
clean-picked and buried
in the boreal forests;
moonless Canadian nights
keep their secrets.

He’s a scar in a tree,
crossed and stabbed so deep
I can’t read his name
under the bulging tissue,
the thick wooden scab.

He’s the paw of an animal
blood-stained and mysterious
discovered on the mossy floor
or thrown into a backyard:
the knowledge that somewhere
a creature is limping, or curled
burning with infection.

Did he come for dinner
dragging in late and boozy
full of arguments and no appetite,
or did he crouch, frog-like, eating from your plate
diesel-stained fingers dragging furrows
through your mashed potatoes
and into his wide, hinged mouth?

Did he pounce on the weaklings,
a grey-haired old goat
bucking his head and screaming hot-sour breath
and bloodshot rumplestiltskin eyes,
stamping his feet until you were ground to silence,
voice lost in the ruckus of his cloven hooves,
his wagging beard?

Breathe me his name,
speak it, steal his power,
nail his face to a tree,
pull the platter of fishbones
from under the bed
and return them to the cool spring water.
A blanket of round river stones to bury his skin;
shining scales flashing in the moonlight,
the reek of blood pulled thin by currents. 

Written in response to writing exercise #60 by Rachel McKibbens.

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