after Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife
My boy went down to the river and came back bronzed man.
Sneer frozen on his handsome face, eyes unblinking, tongue of gold, contempt held
Sharp (between his iron cavities).
We were unlike.
He’d twisted his heart into alloy pockets as cold as the river in the winter-time.
Blood drying on my thighs in that frozen winter-time.
Like calls to like, I suppose. He had always had that frost-bitten laugh.
And he had found that empty frost
In the golden glint of a god, in the
Leaked from his hands like the hunger that breeds in royalty;
Underneath and constant itching at
Skin that never broke. He could not bleed ichor even if he tried,
Even if his hands felt golden raw with clawing.
He was an animal in his bronzed cage.
Writhing in his unbruised pelt like a fish with
Glinting armour who sunk the stomach of a grizzly. That flash men
Chase into the smiling seas, the sun like a lover once held
Glorious and golden, now a constant
Fade in memory.
I did not pity him.
Pooled from his eyes when he beheld me;
I did not touch him, my blood not his blood,
Tainted blood. Unlike.
My womb knows no golden glints.
I went down to the river. Listened to the
Reeds spit secrets downriver, splitting lives evenly,
Down the middle. I listened to the secret of my child,
And I did not pity him. It was a meeting –
I brought Dionysus bread of my hearth.
We laughed together, in thanks.