The Changeling Always WinsIt will not eat. It will not sleep.
It climbs the walls and spits at me.
It is no child: only from afar
will those hands, those eyes,
that grin pass for innocent.
It is weeping like a hangman's daughter.
It is wailing like a fiddle at a demon's chin.
It is laughing like old ice trod underfoot.
It is vomiting warm curds on my new shoes.
It is pulling all my bookmarks out.
It is gumming the coals from my hearth.
I don't care what you say.
It is no child.
Oh, how I hate the town wives
with their households like a sampler verse:
my children are lovely, my children are good;
my children always do just as they should
while it babbles in its argot like thieves-cant,
the gabblish tongue of twins,
and watches me sidelong, and slaps
my ass, and sinks
its needle teeth into my tit.
What would you have me do?
Heed the stories, thrash it till it squeals and --
what? Scrabbles out a map for me,
a lay of hills and greenwood, with an X,
long fingers spidered in the ash?
(Crow-child, fox-child, as if you would not lie.)
Trick it? Trick it? Its very heart pumps guile.
It is sly as sharks in shipwrecks, slick as
Death gone courting. Me, I'd sooner trick a stone.
Cut it open, turn its insides out?
What would I find?
A clockwork heart, a clot of earth,
a vein-fine plait of baby hair tied thrice,
which I might recognize?
(The long knives whisper darkly in their block.)
It rails at me like a jilted ghost.
(I sharpen them.)
It smiles at me like fever breaking.
(I let them rust.)
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