Matar as Saudades

Traci Brimhall

In the short dream, she falls down the stairs again and again,

           singing in a bloodied wedding dress, the crowd

breathless. My hands tied, again, to the chair to keep me from

           rushing the stage and kissing her lovely, dead mouth.

I never wanted her more than when she died for a love she pretended

           was real. Desire’s sweetest fiction in three acts

and an encore. In the middle dream, an angel milks venom

           from a snake while I dig and dig in the wet dirt of a grave

to pull free a child. Waxy thing, unwelcome need, forehead

           stained with pink. The child’s birthmark —

her mother’s silhouette. I command my beloved to return

           to me but the child wails and wails, weeping white sap

until my hands stick to her. A contract. The will of the forest.

           A love with a future instead of a past. Like glass shattered

by a high note, it is foreshadowed by music. Like a dog

           bristling between a girl and a jaguar, it is ferocious

and sleepless and bound for tragedy, but not now. Now begins

           the long dream where I believe my fear and adore it,

where I hear the tolling of a song I lived in my early years, pealing

           underwater like a summons. It belongs to a longing

that murmured my name before falling down a flight of stairs,

           that I still seek knowing I’ll find snakes nesting

in the rotted house and the darling dead on my old mattress,

           her mouth bloodless, waiting, impossible to resist.

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