MISTRESS page background

Megan Cowen

In which the female specimen tells us everything makes her afraid

There are no unfit accidents

after the first flood, drunk

with silk-song.

Somewhere a hush seemed to

fall in like a church,

an other-wordly,

ringing thing

you would recognize.

It will let you watch

the whisking,

maybe.

A strange throat

backed into a jeweled face

just before your second birthday,

I said to my daughter.

Purple Macaws and

my Indian boy were

all about that, only brighter.

I spied a plush gray tone

too commonplace to kill,

but I will,

even if I have to cross

five hundred

foxes to the north

and manage to get

through all right.

Perhaps you liked the idea

of sifting

through the half-light

about us all the time—

I have never decided,

even after one song.

Just think,

a few paces ahead of me

she put her foot on

the quiet body,

said she was very sorry.

And I was sorry too,

to have lived

all winter

when I should have been

flying against the window

of a parked car

A full thirty minutes after capture the female specimen has expired

it takes about three minutes to appear

in the blood several hours to return

in snakes and males

that lose a fight with another male

losing an interaction is

exposing

a cage for a moment

in body temperature

such tests tell us that other animals

fear the chances as much

as they do captivity

wild finches sit quietly

in a hide watching

through pink and grey parrots

as they drop in a puff

shrieked into trees

I could still hear in pain

my witness

stepped out

landed on top I know

it didn’t lay still

waiting to die with

resolution in sight

its eyes like a traffic accident

fifteen minutes after

it’s eaten its fill

The female specimen visits a fortune teller who, for an additional $20, can tell her the rest of her life

It’s like the fear of slipping on an old tradition, of

pedaling into the bloodstream with easy music.

I can’t hear you.

Come to my dressing room,

pickpocket who draws so well—close-ups of eyes

muddied heels and hands. Drop

the wolf skin and make a dash

as if you’ve cheated us.

In this version of life all the plants bear fruit

as promised. But why do it at all?

Two girls on a train are accepting the moment

just before the tunnel, memorizing

what is precious and what is threatened and

what is very close.

The message is, by nature, a total let-down

and the girls take in a lot of air, debut

as headless spaces behind a smoke screen.

It’s shaky.

It’s bananas.

It is happy baggage over a bright yellow bruise

milk-stained

twitching in a white field.