after Bisclavret, by Marie de France
What that uppity Norman bitch will never tell you
is that he stank to high heaven just home from the hunt,
left muddy footprints on the painted tiles in my parlor,
and drank till the cider was gone. What was I to do
but trap him, see to it that the brute lost his armor
in favor of claws? Even my father’s hawking mutts
knew better than to dribble on the floor. Small wonder
the King took him in, for one animal will always
know another—and heaven help him if it had been
the Queen who’d got savaged instead! What would the court
have said, what when his noseless firstborn daughter made
her first mask? And what of my own daughters, joyless,
deprived of the green scent of spring, of summer flowers
I knew once, but that they can never guess? Just for sport,
Highness, I wish you’d hunted him, chased him senseless
before the kill. I wonder if he’d have changed then, but now
he never will.
A. J. Odasso‘s poetry has appeared in a number of strange and wonderful publications, including Sybil’s Garage, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, Cabinet des Fées, Midnight Echo, Not One of Us, Dreams & Nightmares, Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Farrago’s Wainscot, Through the Gate, Liminality, inkscrawl, and Battersea Review. Her début collection, Lost Books (Flipped Eye Publishing, 2010), was nominated for the 2010 London New Poetry Award and for the 2011 Forward Prize, and was also a finalist for the 2011 People’s Book Prize. Her second collection with Flipped Eye, The Dishonesty of Dreams, was released in August of 2014. Her two chapbooks, Devil’s Road Down and Wanderlust, are available from Maverick Duck Press. She holds degrees from Wellesley College and the University of York (UK). She currently lives in Boston with her partner and a tank full of inquisitive freshwater fish. You can find her online at ajodasso.livejournal.com (and on Twitter under the same name).
Image: German woodcut, 1722.