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Fevers of a Minor Fire

Read by Sandra Beasley

August, near the First

Dear Madame —

I address you with a tongue calloused
and lumbering. Imagine the skein of my hair,
humble and falling, neck ravaged.
Based on your favored advice,

I have passed some days burning
the locked boxes my suitors sent me.
The firelight refracted by the fever flush,
sweat on my brow and collarbone.

There is a feral oath in my throat,
dear Lady, I confess it.
I have pilfered many ounces of blood
from my heart and placed them in the vial.

In the fire, the garnet fluid boils,
holy and unholy, still. I have no prayers,
but my bruised veins pulse beneath
slack skin, pale and thin muscle cover.

Madame, will you answer only this?
The voice that steals along these walls
and calls me to the flame, is it you speaking?
It is a sweet and viscous sound, like the port

I sip each night to bring me sleeping.
I await your reply. Do not be hurried.
There is tinder enough to keep the fire
and plenty of red meat to replenish the heart.

— Your Subservient

Sandy Longhorn is the author of Blood Almanac (Anhinga Press), which won the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. New poems are forthcoming or have appeared recently in 32 Poems, The Cincinnati Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. Longhorn teaches at Pulaski Technical College, runs the Big Rock Reading Series, is an Arkansas Arts Council fellow, and blogs at Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.