for Clare Rossini
When Minos first saw me
he recognized, with satisfaction,
the work of bull-stupid queens,
the horrors delivered
in strange ways to kings.
With a simple lifting of his hand
he summoned the clown from Pediatrics.
He thought the rainbow-colored fool could use
an eyeful of something ugly and embarrassing,
white set next to red, not a shade of pink
in sight: a birthing room
wrecked, the woman inside
having given the gods the perfect
chance to kill her when she knew
damn well they wouldn't.
And afterwards, and just before,
she clung so hard to the midwife
she could taste her blood and mine
mingled in the old woman's hair,
could smell the wine on her breath
when she upset the bowl of poppy pods
over my steaming, royal head.
The clown, for his part,
joked that he and not the bull
might be my father, coming to the queen
under the midwife's drunken gaze.
I'm afraid the clown's world was
a little marvelous,
the midwife a bit too red in the nose,
the queen dragged free
of me, the breech x-rayed
to show my neck where it breaks
where the midwife breaks it.
Kenny Williams's poems have appeared most recently in Rattle
, Lake Effect
, and Fence
, and are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner
, Gulf Coast
, the American Literary Review
, and the Kenyon Review Online
. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia, and holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
more by Kenny Williams:
The Man who Blamed Life on a Spaniel