2020 Second Place

Mistress Dispelling

by Lara Frankena

a gathering of mistresses by moonlight
caterwauling plaintively

I wake to find my flowers trampled
the tender bulbs uprooted

when we find the one with the bad eye
there is another litter for the gardener to drown

the swollen teats of the guilty mistress weep rivers of milk
younger mistresses sidle up to her, mewing

the mistresses curl around my legs

as I trail my fingers along striped hindquarters
or idly stroke perfumed hair
they murmur their appreciation

the mistress
who has been contentedly grooming her eyebrows
stops licking and listens

overnight, an outside mistress slithers in

my handbag, my red leather shoes

as snowflakes 

                        as fingerprints            

                                                as zebra’s stripes

no two mistresses are alike

the old mistress’s rotten teeth have been pulled

my husband tries to read the paper
as she sucks her supper in the kitchen

the mistress with torn earlobes lounges by the fence
examining her nails

I ease the fallen nest into a crook
of the magnolia tree

its sky-blue eggs miraculously intact

to dispel the mistress

whisper in her ear of venereal disease
punish her with sticks
seduce her with another lover

it is my bed
and I intend to lie in it