136 THE MISSOURI REVIEW • SPRING 2019
and angled her silver mirror to see
scarlet mouth, oyster flesh, freakish
wound that did not bleed. I was afraid
to say what I’d seen. At night I felt it
slicken like a slip of sediment,
then the tippet’s hood drew back
and thrust my hips against my hand
until I gasped. I heard Mother
stir in her sleep and held my breath
to still the fist that clenched and seized.
Protégée, he called me, Mademoiselle Say.
Mean girl, have mercy on me.
His shoulders were thick in my hands
as unworked clay. His tongue in my mouth
soaked a wet stain through my skirts
I tried to gather up and hide
then let fall so he could see. I don’t believe
the things the others say
about his infidelities and rage.
It’s foolishness, a conte de fées
frightening children away from the rocks
to stop them getting stuck in a slit
or lost in the dark when they misjudge
how deep a cave or intricate its twists.
He knows things about me
Mother never thought to ask. He will
teach me everything and I will
work for him and model when he likes
and I will never be alone again.