by Midori Snyder

There was the sight
Grey and monstrous, rubbed with ashes and grit
Father's skin in the moonlight, shadows from my door
His jaw stretching into the room

There was the smell
Rank and cloying, the tang of smoked flesh
Father's exhalations on the surface of my skin
A tooth decayed from a hunger for sweets

There was the sound
Parchment crackle as I coiled, a tail sweeping the rushes
Father's breathing harsh, labored as his
Feet slid over the stones to my bed

There was the feel
Stiff and dried, the sinews couched threads
Father's parched hand on my wrist, roped fingers
Snaring my rebellious pulse

There was the taste
Tannery salt, rubbed into the cured flesh
Father's hand over my mouth
The tidal sweat of his palm stinging my lips

Beneath the donkeyskin I lived
Embraced by arched ribs of ivory
Father clamored over the dead skin, but could not
Find me curled in the belly

Later, I stitched the skin to my sides
And fled into the night, the cutting edge of
Hooves striking the granite stones
Shedding stars to light my way.

Midori Snyder (whose favorite fruit is the mango), is a writer, folklorist, and the co-director of The Endicott Studio for Mythic Art. She has published eight books for adults, young adults, and children, winning the Mythopoeic Award for her Italianate novel The Innamorati. Her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in many journals, anthologies, and "best of the year" collections. Raised in the U.S. and Africa, Midori studied African oral narratives, earned a Masters in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, and taught English and Creative Writing to high school students in Italy and Milwaukee. After many years in Milwaukee, she and her husband, Stephen Haessler, spent the last year living in Tucson, Arizona, and will soon be en route to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her forthcoming books include a fairy novel with Jane Yolen, and a sequrel to The Innamorati. For more information, please visit Midori's website -- which includes a regular blog on art, literature, myth and the writing life titled In the Labyrinth.

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