by Sonya Taaffe




     Coughing, he huddles into my shadow,

     wrecked as an umbrella in the dying

     afternoon, his mouth stanched tightly

     on his sleeve. A dry fever is curing him

     to a dark poppy-head, his ribs rattling

     with shot seed; its last fruitings stick

     like red mistletoe in his handkerchief,

     iron salts fermenting. The sun grinds

     on the eyes like salt. The secret agent

     is in the breathing in. A rusted bedspring

     in the back garden, descending bare-lit

     concrete, his face turned back toward me

     a pale screw of paper: The last form

     we take is the weeping eye, scoured raw

     with looking out. In the dust-washed

     steep of light, I uncrumple each contagion

     while he watches from the bed, white sheets

     and black iron like another typescript,

     but the clots and seeps of this notation

     would break my throat into blood to read

     aloud. And the froth of tin, the white light

     swinging out Silently, I separate

     the stained threads, the rheum and drag

     of his lungs, the sunset shallows beyond

     the panes. Where he falters, I will flower.

     Oh, the sparrow-bones! The lost and broken keys.



About the Author:

Sonya Taaffe has a confirmed addiction to myth, folklore, and dead languages. Her poem “Matlacihuatl’s Gift” shared first place for the 2003 Rhysling Award, and poems and short stories of hers have been been nominated for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Locus Award, shortlisted for the SLF Fountain Award, and honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. A respectable amount of her short fiction and poetry can be found in Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Classics at Yale University.


Poem © 2007 Sonya Taaffe. Painting by Nicolas Poussin, 1630.