Like a fly in amber
this world she wants to save:
golden. Brittle. A talisman
that burrows into the breast,
impervious to all but the sharpest instruments.

Or with a spin of the wheel, an ordinary pebble
wedged under the shoe
of her carousel horse.

While the world she has no use for
goes soft, pulpy, membranous,
inebriate with shadows.
Wobbles like an old newsreel
about the Enemy: delusional.
It cannot be bargained with.

In her neck of the woods
it’s no big deal to hear voices.
I don’t get love letters, she jokes
as she suits up. Just chain mail.
With her left palm making
circles on her scalp: rosemary oil,
specific for vagaries of the brain,

good medicine for weddings
& for wakes. Henna
for the hint of flames.
Even so, to ride without a helmet—
Men will follow a flag only
if they think it’s inviolate.

I watch the unlit fag
in the corner of her mouth
bobbing, waggling
with every consonant.
Little white bone how you shake,
how you never fall!