Charming character turns creep, bug-eyed
he assesses her strange when she opens
her mouth. She
is elsewhere, an ace-
shaped arrowhead spearing towards her,
word duels edge-embroidered with crewel
work of calculating women.
Their abacuses click
off the odds: does she survive? Or is her household
— children, dogs, tablecloths — gone to slavers
and brigands? Who
barred the ligand-gate,
short-circuited that neuroreceptor?
Serotonin kicks in, curry combs
the wild-eyed horse in her, mobs
heaving ribs, lays on blankets thick,
Why isn’t this
on the curriculum: how to resist, how to
tamp a spear wound, be sanguine, unafraid,
grey of gaze?
Wondering that she can be
uninjured, she probes her ribs
with two fingers, surprised
that the fabric is whole,
that her touch
comes away dry.
Frances Boyle is the author of Light-carved Passages (BuschekBooks). Her poetry and stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Grain, Canthius, The New Quarterly, Vallum, Room, The Fiddlehead, and Prairie Fire. Awards include This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt, Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize, and Tree Reading Series’s chapbook contest.