[from Lola Haskins's Castings, Betony, 1984]
When I told him that was all the meat
he said it was like my cheating self
to use up what belonged to him, then lie.
I was lower than a black widow spider
with an hourglass on her belly,
I was worse than white. His slurred hand
slung the kettle. The boiling soup
blanched my arms and face.
I took up the knife,
but he caught my wrist
as if it were a rabbit in
one of his traps, shook it,
broke its neck.
At my feet hot flies were buzzing
around the scattered bits of pig,
the splashed greens.
Chloe, you left tonight on the wings
we never found, and I could not come to you.
The driver sent me home,
telling me to sew the children's summer clothes.
And when I, ghost, slid out again,
Esau caught my throat with his nine tailed cat.
Think of me where you are.
I am the queen of all the frogs
who sing their pain to the swamp.
I am the rustling in the bushes.
I am the little voices that line
the road you travel,
calling, in the one music,
He is beginning to complain
of pains like sharp lights across the window
that go and come. When the stuck doll
rots in its grave under the dogwood,
he will die.
It is a cheerful thing to kill
weeds, to slice their necks and hoe them down.
At noon I nurse the baby, knowing he will be
the last of Esau's blood. His little mouth
sucks greedily at my thin blue milk.
I tell him soon, child, soon.
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