Coup de grâce

She says she has recurrent dreams of a hot fire licking at her hands and feet, drawing her into its center. She says she sees her sister there, and her husband, motioning for her to cross over to the other side. She is by turns ecstatic and furious. She moans and cries, then bellows like a bull provoked for the matador. She likes the blazing red cape, the suit of lights edged with gold; but not so much the lances. For all these visitations, her body has not given up the ghost. What is it they mean when they say this, anyway? Whose ghost lives in her, spurring the bouts of energy, the hunger for fruit, for bread, roast turkey; the mean anger, the need for control? Whatever it is, when she’s in pain she prays for it to be swift— like a wisp of smoke from a snuffed candle, like a tug in both directions so the gold chain breaks.

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