The Queen of the Monkeys
was married to my father—
big house heart sick and lost—
poor mother shovelled love in the yard,
she lived downstairs with the help.
The queen of the monkeys was
my mother now, she told me it all,
taught me if you can’t have him, just
pretend you find him, like in a dream
and he’s yours, simple. Just imagine,
cruelty becoming so wonderful.
She said I always wanted a daughter
and you’ll do, you’re pretty / no you are /
no you are. Father says in jest: a family
is like an engine: loud, dirty and too
complicated for girls, that’s why you
are good at dusting. Nanny shouts through
the thick door, the children are hungry,
can they have a metaphor?
Father, incensed, bellows, please remove
the forcible entry tools from the hall.
Then to me, slip the ice into the drink don’t
detonate it. Your stepmother is coming,
On the rug! I slip onto the rug.
We had just returned from church that Sunday
when the Dog appeared.
At the end of the road you squinted and asked,
what’s that by the gate?
The Dog was leaning on the wall and watched us
as we walked up the path.
We opened the door and a rabble of butterflies
flew out, the Dog slipped in.
It had a sort of smile and we decided it could stay.
We put down some water
but it couldn’t drink, it leaned towards the bowl,
opened its mouth and a slack
purple tongue fell out. We stroked its fur bones
and it sunk onto the tiles.
Without a tongue the Dog would struggle, we tipped
water through its ribs
into its black stomach. The Dog gasped over the house,
staring down at the floor,
it was looking for something. It would move through
each room eyes on the boards.
At the kitchen it stared at the spot its tongue had fallen
expecting it to be there,
that it had simply overlooked it the hundred other times.
The Dog slept by our bed
each morning it would leave behind a hunk of flesh and fur.
We used a dustpan and brush
to sweep then drop it out of the window for the blackbirds
who, like black sapphires
gathered on the fence as if it were the neck of a woman,
each day more and more.
We suspected the Dog was dying and got into bed with it
held hands through its ribcage.
We would keep vigil, it was the least we could do.~
Old Man Haiku
where are you going
with those flowers?
Image Credit: Stanislaw.k