By Elizabeth Ip
THE MAIDEN AND DEATH These days I tire easily. When I rise to follow out the light, Death uncurls slowly in my shadow, tiger-toeing from his armchair to my bedroom. Tenderly he hushes the deathbed negotiations of a weakening sun, and when it is done, he shoulders open the door, and comes to me where I already rest, framed in white. And that is when we talk. For three years I have medicated on this, put myself to sleep with a shadow at my feet. And I want to tell you, did you know I come back from the underworld every night? - and find I cannot. No words come to mind but the painting of your lips I once made, your mouth modelled the moment it had just taken its pleasure in me; beautiful, but very blue. If not that, then the sculpture of my heart, cast in the horrible knowledge that one day, your brow will cool and not from sweat. I am so sure you would not have wanted to know. Or would you? That I have seen your mortality and moved my hands in it. That this is an unwilling medium through which you talk to your ghost. That I told Death about you, and we agreed that you are beautiful, just in different colours. I hope you’ll stay long enough for me to bring a cat home. He’ll be black. At night, he will stay at our feet. And this time we won’t say anything but we’ll know that you’re beautiful.
Elizabeth Ip’s works have been published in the Atelier of Healing and Eye on the World anthologies. When not writing, the pen in her hand is usually replaced by her viola.
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