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for Mark and Debra: Malleus Maleficarum

The ground was never recovered, nor the legions, for their numbers werethought so ill omened that they never again appear in the army lists.

.- J. M. Roberts

It begins with Diane .- the gold shingles of her razored hairalight in the wind that whips the trees,the cotton slips pinned to nylon lines: these improbable ghosts.

The first I ever loved can still incite such desperation. Betrayallashes the careful stitches, the slight fabric;its design undone.

She would take her switchblade and cut spiders in half --a quadrant of scars radiating from her wrists and elbows, she wrote my name in blood,let matches flare against the cuts

small yellow head, searing. I used to operate on myself, she said.Separate a triangle of skin and place objects -- silver pinheads, glass beads close to the bone.

A private surgical kit, embroidery scissors, alcohol, fine needles, andviolet thread; silk, cat whiskers tied in complicated bows. Sheremembers this way, where things are

where they are buried. We studied history together, this is how we met. Recovering the RomanEmpire; she draws military disasters in her margins, mail clad horsemen pitchingviolently to the ground, the movement of the cavalry

a swarm of locusts. Her silver compact slit open, because there are assassins in the narrow hallway;her fine pale feet turn to form an arabesque (a delicate design of flowers,leaves), furrows in the sheets and mattress,

pearls. Ropes of black pearls and a black rubber dress -- submerged in the green haze,the depths of a nightclub, listening. Submission; she hit his thighs with a chain, a hook in his mouth

her lips were alluring. Red feather quills, bright red flies. I think of him, brought violentlyto the surface, his tensile body still below the thin edge of the filleting knifehis slick flesh streaming as he surrenders -- a ceremony of scales and gills, useless to him now,

as he breathes in and out. She told me once that she was like a scorpion, and I did not listen.I let her creep between my fingers, and danger was exotic to me then. I lived somewhere deepbeyond the coastline, in the crevices of rocks and wood planks,

her gold hair spins like loose coins, strange and valuable. The currency of nightmares, wherethe sun burns the earth and empties the seas -- there are skeletons, gingerly reaching for night

night will fall in a rustle of wings, the gentle sweep of the legs of scorpions.

© Crosbie Lynn