Reluctant Mistress

You want to know the mistress’ thoughts
but I can only tell you what she’s dreaming;
nothing feels real to the mistress during the day,
nothing’s as lucid as the dreams that come
after the lover leaves, his scent on the pillows,
the feel of him ghost-like between her legs.

She dreams of the sun, turning
into a red giant star, engulfing
the world in glowing flame, of herself
standing on her belongings as they burn,
watching years absorbed into a cyclone of ash,
knowing she will survive, but not without
losing everything.
She does not dream of him.

But sometimes she dreams of Apollo,
the man-like god, and instead of flames
flicking their fingers at the sky, she envisions
gnarled branches
like a widow’s arthritic hands.
All the trees are hollow.
She knows this, but she doesn’t know why,
only that she’s lost,
a haunting melody trails her,
and she can’t hide in the sunlight;
she prays for the ability to take root somewhere.

She also dreams the future: he’s alone
in some apartment far away, cradling Lolita
as if he’s Humbert himself
locked in his jail cell.
She lies in other men’s beds;
she’s Cassandra, Apollo’s reluctant mistress,
recounting visions of him.
The men shake their heads
in disbelief and confusion.
You don’t understand, she’s saying,
what he gave me was a gift,
but the gift was the same as the curse.

Anne Champion has a BA in Creative Writing and Behavioral Psychology from Western Michigan University and received her MFA in Poetry at Emerson College. She has work previously published in Minnetonka Review, PANK Magazine, The Aurorean, The Comstock Review, Poetry Quarterly, Line Zero, Thrush Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She was also a 2009 recipient of The Academy of American Poets Prize at Emerson College and was recently nominated for an Emerging Writer Grant from The St. Boltolph Foundation. She currently teaches writing and literature at Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and Pine Manor College in Boston, MA.

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