Cover 14

Duende or Babadook

Megan Denton Ray

On Monday, I fill my biggest cup            with grapefruit juice.
At noon, I hear a voice in the shape of a pencil—ticking, ticking.
            I’ve decided to follow it            to float down the hallway

quite undressed. Some music in a minor key starts the pull,
            like smoke beneath the logs, a dark identity rising.
Let me be frank with you: I am filled with skillets,

cravings, shelves.                        I’d like to put on my frilly apron
            and fry an egg—delightfully, to toss the shell
over my shoulder, to giggle when I hear it splat. But no,

this is not what Duende wants. Beak-boned, he says
            that the moon wants me all to herself. He says
her crimp-rimmed craters are shaking their heads.

            So, I sit cross-legged, with my pad of yellow paper.
I pledge allegiance to my flag.            I touch my mouth
and relish what it holds. I think I feel Duende’s hand,

rising in the room, touching the slight glow of me,            or
            maybe he’s peeping through the keyhole as I nibble
at my cuticles. I think he has no choice.            I think I see him,

in a black coat now, swaying softly                        with the curtains.
            The windows have opened suddenly, and outside,
a twelve-inch snow comes down like stars, calcium fragments,

                        postcards—dropping on the boulevards,
impossible half-skies empty their teapots                        on the lawn.
I grin and listen to the neighbors squeal.            I have been wound up

like a spring, a mechanical ballerina            with a key
clacking            at my back. My mouth falls open, and I create
without feeling,                        a tangled clump of greens.

Megan Denton Ray received her MFA from Purdue University. Her work has appeared recently or soon in The Sun, Salt Hill Journal, Cimarron Review, The Adroit Journal, Radar Poetry, and elsewhere. She currently lives and teaches in Tennessee.