Scythe and a sandglass

by Jim Benz

Serafino has one handkerchief
which he keeps in an oak box
wrapped in linen beneath his bed.
It is as clean as the tears of a saint
and twice as holy. Prior to its interment
beneath the bed, his wife Malvolia
wanted to burn it, to cleanse it of spells
and demons. She didn't know
what she was saying, so he put her
in a Russian tea room and kept her there,
wrapped in silk, jewels, and etiquette.
He pretended to sympathize.

Each day, when Svetlana served her,
Malvolia cried and cried and cried,
but the tears from her good eye
were mud-stained and smelled like fish.
Her bad eye was worse: a bug eye
that always stared and never blinked.
Once it had a foreign name: Eleanor
of Arreton Manor, Isle of Wight.
In those days, before the misfortune,
it was a queenly eye, with long lashes
and allure. Now it was diseased, a yellow
coveting eye: Maloccio.

Every day, except on weekends,
Svetlana peers into this eye and frowns.
Once, on the occasion of his rare visit
to the tea room, she asked Serafino how
things had come to be as they were. He replied
with horror, "Occhi e contro e perticelli agli
occhi, crepa la invida e schiattono gli occhi."
She had no idea what he was saying,
but found his voice to be intoxicating
and beautiful. Hearing her say this aloud,
Malvolia began to smile. In an eyelid's beat,
she wore a mask that was almost lifelike.


Author's Note: Published in Blackbox Manifold Summer '09

Posted on 06/05/2009
Copyright © 2023 Jim Benz

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 06/06/09 at 01:28 AM

Definitely weirdness, but an intriguing "eyeful", and you tell a good tale, nonsensical or no.

Posted by Paganini Jones on 06/06/09 at 07:34 PM

Oh I DO like this - spare storytelling that makes me want more stories to follow. But of course this is about a relationship, and you draw it compllingly in this form. Show, don't tell at its best I think.

Posted by Brian Francis on 06/07/09 at 06:31 PM

Nice story poem. The images inspired by the setting and content are amazing. Evil eye or no, I like it. -bf

Posted by Laurie Blum on 06/10/09 at 06:11 PM

Obscure enough to make me want more! I wish this was a longer story. I throughly enjoyed this.

Posted by Tony Whitaker on 06/13/09 at 04:36 AM

I find myself thinking of the old movie "Jason and the Argonauts". A mythical and compelling tale, Jim!

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 07/24/10 at 01:54 AM

don't know how i missed this one - but i love it when you tell your twisted tales.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 10/18/16 at 12:12 AM

This POTD certainly fits the season and was fun to read again. Congrats, Jim!

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