bluebeard’s servants

I ran out on the sidewalk

under the broken streetlight


dry leaves chuffing overhead

like someone rubbing their palms in a black room


a muffled radio from a parked car

blue drool dribbling from its tailpipe


the green needle of the radio dial

like a knife’s edge in a dream


I heard you calling my name

like I was in trouble


like you were right there beside me

with an unwashed cup in your hand


but I knew you weren’t outside

I watched you leave the yard


barefoot in your robe of fireflies

I knew the house was empty


the lukewarm sleeping flank of the drier

the dishwasher’s matted pelt


the long black velvet box of the hall

blood on the keys


I was always the child who had to look

who went in the study with the torn chairs and stuffed birds


who upended the trinket box and found your fob

my breath rattling in my throat like bones shaking in a dice cup


I saw the hot coil a carful of blue smoke

why didn’t the driver help me


Mother shrugged as you led me away

to the inevitable chamber


where dead girls moulder in velvet gowns

locked in like wives