Happy Halloween

“Death to you and your open door,” she said, walking airily down the street. She avoided people, somehow managed not to touch them, and though she wore only dark slacks and a man’s white buttondown shirt with twenties in the pocket, and was barefoot, no one really saw her. Some people looked at her, but no one saw her. She wandered down the sidewalk and she touched glass window displays and left warm palm prints and her toes were cold and pink, and she could see her own breath, but she didn’t seem to mind.

“Something in the wind,” she whispered. “Tonight of all nights. You know it, don’t you, love? You know what comes, on tonight of all nights? When you light the candles,” she whispered. “When you light the candles, she’ll finally be able to come through, but you’ll have to reach out and grab her. Take her. Make her yours again. Please, for me? Do this for me; I can’t do it myself. Just remember that I’m always here. Even when I’m not.”

Terror I Know

The terror I know
does not come from gore,

not from killers
or monsters
with bone fingers

or the slow, steady gait
that will always catch a victim
who is running through the woods.

It does not come
from skeletons
or wraiths.

It does not come
from slime
or sharp teeth.

It comes from
the steady only-for-me whisper
that has never been quiet
save for in the loudest roar of love
from the largest crowd.

That soft, sly whisper
that has never stopped saying
the three words
that have made
all the difference in my life:

“Not. Good. Enough.”

Heart of a King

When I was a boy, I was to be presented to the king, given to him to be his companion, his guardian, his friend and ally. Anyone who stepped before him had to give tribute of some kind, but I was only a child, and had nothing of my own to give, nothing I had created or owned. Instead, cut out my heart, and brought it to my king. I could feel it trembling against my fingertips. Pulled free of me, it hadn’t had stopped fluttering, but instead it lay within my grasp, beating as fiercely and quickly as a hummingbird’s wings. When I stepped before him, and offered it out, I stumbled. The whole court gasped, turning from my shame, not wanting to see me fall — but not my king.

He caught me.

His hands curled about my wrists, and he helped me up, and when he drew me close, I saw he was no older than I, nothing more than a child as well. He accepted my heart with grace and gravity, and while everyone’s back was turned, he offered up his own, to me.

I carry his heart within me, in place of my own, and each night as I drift off to sleep, I put my hand to my chest and feel it beating, strong and steady, and I know he does the same, palm to chest, listening to the twin drums that only he and I can hear.

The First Time

The moon had gone dark the first time he crept into the bartizan. He had clear eyes then, unruined. Even in the black he could see her, where she sat at her loom, weaving stories to life. She worked from memory and when the silver light came, when the thread of light from the waxing crescent finally showed, he could make out the picture she had shut herself away to make.

“Majesty,” he called her, and he wept to see the beauty she created.

They laid together as though they’d known one another always, and rejoiced to find one another as tender and as delicate and as strong as the other needed.

He left her in the dark, left her in the silverblueblack of night, without a single promise spoken, but they both knew he would be back.

Within

There is this in
within me,
where I have tattooed
black stars.
They are where the in
within me
reaches out to come out,
where I am feather and hollow bone.
Where I am not
as sturdy as I look,
but where I am delicate
and fragile,
a piece of overblown glass.
My wings are not made
for an eagle,
but instead, a butterfly,
and you snap them
every time
you curl your hands around me,
every time you try
to make me yours,
even if
I want you to.