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House of Darkness

Pascale Petit

Silver bells painted on my cheeks

so Mother could always find me,

my hair cut, woven into hers.

I polished the obsidian floor.

The sweetness at the centre

belonged to Tezcatlipoca –

Aztec Smoking-Mirror god.

Mother's memories rose

and sank into the burnished tiles.

Sometimes a vision serpent swayed

and a jaguar reared from its jaws.

Jimson weed takes away terror,

but at dawn before Mother woke,

I obediently dusted the dresser –

drawers full of stingray spines,

swordfish beaks, and a blade

called the Perforator

"for piercing tongues of daughters who talk".


From Magma No 30 (Winter 2004/5)