Idaea Who Gave to Torture Her Laughing Children

Though never once we met, still she stands before me, pale, faceless, immaterial, cold arms wrapped forver around that body that by right is mine. Her icy kisses she presses on those warm and mobile lips that curled once to see my lissom walk across a garden, and that breath she steals that moves to say my name. She lies between us at night, leeches all our intimacies into repetition, mechanical comfort, her face read for mine, her face read for his, my distant king.

I cannot fight her, cannot with blows and unkind words drive her from this house into the darkness and the gnashing of teeth, and so my days are long and ashen. Two boys she had by him, like her, dark in beauty, curly-haired, bright-eyed, erect and proud! In their walk, in their sport, in their violent hunts that frightened me so when first I took their lives with mine, I see her mocking shade, the tiny gestures passed down more reverently than any golden coffer or close-worked cup to hold the maddening wine.

There, too, I see their grandfather, that cold and violent northman, see how they shake each other in their greetings, how cheerful-rough they handle the maidens that come night by night, how swift they run upon the hills and beaches of our island, how friendly and mocking they dandle my sons upon their mannish knees, and all my nights are cold and cold and weary…