Winter 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. IV, No. 4


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

Laurie Byro


The Pig’s Wife at Forty

Our brick house needs repointing. North
winds blow through cracks and furrows.
Muddy paw prints smear the window glass;
drool forms rivulets on dusty door frames.

The flower beds outside the porch are trampled
beneath all the waxing and waning. Another wolf
is huffing at the door. Romance can be a messy
enterprise. We boiled the last one in a black kettle

that hung in the fireplace. Two spring clean-ups,
you could still smell scorched wolf-fur
on the gingham curtains I had hemmed. Behind
our house are tell-tale signs an interloper is back.

We have found pieces of egg and bloody feathers
from newly hatched swans. Once, I found
a downy stem without its petal-soft head. Lately,
after I curl behind my husband’s rump, I root under

the covers for a plump red apple. I hear
jealous howling from the direction of the forest.
He keens like they all have done, wants
another taste of my tender flesh. Admittedly,

I let the wolf in while my husband was out making
our fortune. He chased me for a while, I could tell
by his mournful gold eyes it was inevitable what
would happen next. If I wanted a romp, he would

be the one—his sleek silver body, his skillful mouth.
But I am older, wiser to the ways of wolves.
I have read enough fairy tales to know, not all
end happily despite their promises. We got

dirty like he predicted. I luxuriated in a filthy froth.
But, in the end, he wanted to turn me into a silk
purse. He wanted to gobble me up. Not again. Not
by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.


The Visitor

The opossum waddled into our living room
like an old deacon of a church. She looked up
at our cathedral ceiling as if expecting
to see the North Star. It was Christmas.
We were in the middle of a fight. I scraped
our dinner plates, crusts of bread clung
to congealing gravy. I felt my ovaries harden.
I told my husband I wasn’t ready to give him
up and I rattled the silver bracelet
with the ten commandments for emphasis.
I was thinking of the opossum’s hands.
They were the only graceful thing about her,
almost human. She pushed open our front
door to come in, closed it when she left.
Our voices, barely interrupted by this visitor,
rose to a crescendo and I warned him never
to feed her as he had done the raccoon. It's a sin
to feed a wild animal who needs to learn to forage.
That winter the snow fell like stars and I made
a wreath from our woods. Brown acorns became
the nipples of a man I loved, blue jay feathers
the dark mystery of my lover’s eyes.
Our house creaked and drifted with snow.
We survived the cold winter. When I readied
our garden in spring, my rake hit a chunk
of what I thought was dirty snow: an opossum
with a swollen body, engorged from the babies
she had nursed, her hands frozen palm
to palm, almost as if in prayer.


Job Returns as a Puffin

This is the island of dreams. From here the tempest
will deliver us into the sea of death. Later
we will be washed up on the mainland shore
without eyes, without dreams, with our little orange
feet curling up like the poppies I tore from the earth
to lay on my wife’s table. Each bud burst into
a bead of blood that spilled from my master’s eyes.
We are all thieves. We are all whores.

If only I could return to the earth and not this sea
of turmoil. My eyes would blaze with his fire
and not be extinguished by his charred fingers.
I would follow him into the dark like I did an insect
that illuminated the night to the days when I was a blossom
needing the sun and he was the garden around me.


© Laurie Byro



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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