EMPRESS

by Chani Zwibel 

EMPRESS

Please send good news
and graceful configurations of repose.
I want to recline on this silver maple settee
 and read this gilt-edged tome in peace.
I keep dreaming of stone circles.
 I can’t keep count of all these Druids.
Fetch me a tin cup full of cool water
 from the spring house.
 Bring it up to the porch steps
while I muse on these violets.
My tongue cherishes a hard candy in my mouth,
red, sugared-cherry, too sweet.
I think, counting:
Seven grey owls
Seven slate obelisks
Seven signed armistices
Seven hollowed skulls
Seven tailored empresses.
Indispensable utensil,
Small, two-pronged gold fork,
gripped in dainty, milk pale fingers,
carries tender meat to my mouth,
minced with mint very small.
Supine, in repose, upon a feather mattress strewn
with fragrant lavender buds and rose petals.
 Saffron and crimson satin bedclothes,
 sheets, and pillow cases cool and smooth,
their own kind of caress.
Drink the violet tincture in the blown-glass blue bottle
by the bedside. On your hands, face, and décolletage,
massage the rosewater crème from the small, round, alabaster jar.
Imbibe a bit of the wine
in the ivory-inlaid silver chalice.
Pop a few green grapes between your teeth while you wait.

SORCERESS

Smeared ink spots on fingertips,
the little bones dressed in thin skin,
hold the quill, nails tips brush parchment,
whisper echoing the sharp nub.
My unknown lover has no name;
he travels on the wind.
He wears a chalcedony ring,
controls the weather, moves the clouds,
and commands thunder, like a thin demi-god
in a blue silk cloak. He lives in the burnt, hollow
shell of an oak tree, at the water’s edge.
He comes to me on dusk’s descent.
He visits my chamber with the rain.
On my marble windowsill,
he leaves polished river stones.
He loosed a dead limb from a birch
and laid its shattered bones at my feet.
He shape-shifted into an iridescent blue-winged dragonfly
and chased away a hairy, thick knuckled horsefly.
He reemerges as a serpent, weaves a wand of white across my ankles,
becomes a gold-clasped belt to cinch my waist, and whispers
“show restraint only to others, never for me.” 
I acquiesce; I let him in. 

CHATELAINE

Collect the delicate, diminutive pieces,
an archaeology of small:
a bone comb, three ivory pins,
and a silver hand mirror
exhumed from Pompei’s crusted seal.
Fragrant gardens with plashing fountains
and spacious orangeries,
braced by crisp pebbled paths
in neat geometric lines,
shrubs clipped in orbs and spirals.
Metal keys leave the blood-scent on my fingertips.
It’s always night descended in the wine cellar,
dusk sliding down the eaves
where ghosts’ curious hands
grip wooden window casements,
press nose to glass.
A letter marked with the duke’s seal came
bearing word of silk and spices,
brackish water on the hull,
gems, gold, and silver,
brackish water on the tongue,
grain, salt, cheese, and leather,
brackish water in the sails.
All these goods come across the waters,
the cargo’s journey many miles.
He promises me a song.
Sing to the silvered edge of night and back again,
cool grey in the dovecote, plum-banded, crimson singed.
We’ll meet where the golden barge alights,
at the ocean’s mouth in the palm-sheltered harbor of the wide blue bay.
I don’t believe him,
know our love lives
where waves kiss the prow
‘neath the figurehead’s slippers.

About the Author:

Chani Zwibel is the author of Cave Dreams to Star Portals. She is an associate editor with Madness Muse Press. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and their dog. She enjoys writing poetry after nature walks and daydreaming. 

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