Lothar’s Wife

L
he’s only a smart-ass when he’s home
with Mandrake
he’s silent and obedient as a snail
his bald pate bowing into the cape’s
trail and dreaming
of tales he’ll bore me with
his one night home

once a month
that’s what I get like clockwork
and always on the full moon
half my allowance he reserves
for sheets, tearing them with his teeth
to vent the forced silence
of those other twenty-odd days

did I say odd
it’s that one day that’s odd
his coming home full of half-tricks
he’s picked up from the master
the hypnotic hunger
he so willingly tries on me
he claims he stole me, bought me

claims he’s Zulu, Bantu, Beja
depending on the hour, day, or year
says I was the black spot
in the white of his eye
the speck he turned into leopard
that unwittingly turned into woman
neither of us no longer knows what’s real

and my mother beats her fat tongue
against her gums
as each month I try to reveal the puzzle
stroking the lines from his hairless
obsidian crown
I hear her rumbling around in the next room
I soothe his sweet head and she moans
heaven protect us from all the things
to which we can become accustomed
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