Three weeks in, the masked man whispered,
Let me disfigure you gently, as he knelt
by her bed. She seemed to nod while she dreamt.
He gathered his tools from a pouch:
chisels, dull knives, gag and stirrups,
barbs, ninja stars, tools for working leather.
Slowly, he began to skive the v of her throat,
prick her breasts till they bled, and the room
filled with ghosts and not-ghosts of children
who were, or who never would live.
They hummed in a taffy light around her head.
“You must be the devil,” she wanted to say, or said.
He chuckled a bit, shucking the skin
like an old stocking from her leg, sanding raw
her forearms. “I can’t see my hands,” she whispered,
“or read small print. You don’t exist.” He laughed
again, buckling her in two. She heard herself split
like melon, too-ripe strawberry, sweet, dark fruit,
dripping down to the hard arch of her cramped foot.
Her mother’s voice warned, “Always keep things clean.”
But now he caressed the fine skin of her face
with a tingling. His fingers dipped and traced,
left the taste of burnt sugar. When she turned
to look, he was gone. Instead, in his place,
lay her beautiful husband, lips parted
sleeping with a blind man’s outstretched arms.