When I was young, and the world too loud
My defenses thin as tissue paper
Ridden with nightmares
Blessed with visions
Hammered with practicalities
Shoved in a box,
Unfurling only in secret
Under covers like dense fog, and I the ground,
Her owl twisted its head, as if hanged and broken-necked in a gale.
She turned hers, the picture of grace and calm.
I closed my eyes, hard.
She touched me with her black glove smooth upon my face,
And my bones gathered and rose as one,
A white flock within my flesh
A soul released and rising.
"Little girl," she said in her perfect blackwinged voice,
"What has been happening here?"
Spirits seemed to peer from behind her shoulders, listening.
A blackberry bush scraped the window outside.
The door turned its own lock and breathed.
I had believed, always, that I was dust on a smooth tabletop,
A trial sent by someone I couldn't remember,
To perform some evil that I didn't understand.
I tried to stay out of the way.
I swallowed my words.
I was the only red spark in a house of heavy dark emplacements,
A male preserve.
I set myself on fire constantly,
I opened my eyes.
"Who are you?" I asked the woman, my visitor.
Her owl swiveled back, to stare.
The lady's eyes widened, just for a moment,
Trees sighed, swaying above the house like mourners, unseen.
Anger floated off her, like bright dead leaves, then scattered.
She looked away.
"This must be paid for," she whispered, to the dark room.
Turning back, she was calm as a frozen sky.
She leant forward, soft as a rumor.
"I am the Succubus Athena."
"And who am I?" I asked, not even realizing it or meaning to,
And half afraid I was about to die.
For the first time, she smiled--
Smooth as skinning a kill, she peeled off her gloves and took my face in her hands;
She kissed my hairline, soft as the falling of full dark,
In the spot where the silver still stays.
"Little girl," she murmured, in a tone I had never heard before,
"You have always been
And will always be
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