The old man wants to know which of his daughters loves him the most.
Like robes of silk? like crackling fat? like sheets of hammered gold with garnet crusts?
Like steel vaults, like a suit of mail, like a dome’s marble pillars and carved doors?
Woe to the stammering one who cannot summon her parade of woodpeckers, her retinue of tumbling clowns.
Be careful: bottom-dwellers lurk in the mud, jealous of every bright bubble of original thought.
They’ll want to pull her down, cast her out, call her traitor, demoness, ingrate, stupid bitch.
They won’t remember it was her who lit the fire in the morning, put the pots to bed at night, filled the glass with water that the indifferent hand reached for and drank.
She fashions a gown out of discarded plastic. She gathers water in a sieve.
Her heart fills and fills with salt— fractals like quivering ribs in magicians’ parasols, each more beautiful than the last.
I won’t tell her that she’ll have her day.
But I watch for signs glimpsed from the high window: how the planets align, how trees cast their shadows along the broken boundary; how the wolves howl as they press closer to their prey.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.