An ancient king
wears heavy wooden prayer beads
looped about his neck, maybe of koa or woodrose.
White-robed, he is sworn to protect local
villagers from demons. There are many —
a snow queen with killing blasts of ice, a troupe of viral bats
victim’s heads dangling
from necks like spent cherry blossoms, and hissing
foxes that spit trees wide open,
but the great master zaps them all,
unprepared for what comes next —
a white serpent who slithers along
trying to finger her emptiness, until one day,
Su-Su spots an herbalist on her mountainside.
She is beautiful, snake charms the good man and becomes his wife,
helps him brew herbs to combat a disease
that chars villagers into sticks of ash.
The king wonders why his services are no longer necessary,
discovers that Su-Su is pouring
a bit of herself into every brown bottle, which is why the medicine
is making her husband a household name.
Su-Su is upsetting the order of things, dangerous
when demons have relations with humans.
Of course, it ends badly, there’s one last kiss before
she is entombed for eternity.
The healer drifts away on a clot of earth.
Lenore Weiss‘s collections include Tap Dancing on the Silverado Trail (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Sh’ma Yis’rael (Pudding House Publications, 2007), Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island (West End Press, 2012) and Two Places (Aldrich, 2014). Her writing has won recognition from Poets & Writers (finalist in California Voices contest) and as a finalist for Pablo Neruda Prize, Nimrod International Journal. The Society for Technical Communication has recognized her work regarding Technical Literacy in the schools.