What craft is this?
His contempt snakes like angry spittle along her forehead.
Her interrogator sneers
At the lace at her neck—
Sorcery to seduce unwitting men,
Every thread of her designed to deceive,
To pull the innocent from the ladder
Pluck them from the arduous climb to the small casement
That may welcome them like a lover
Or slam sharply at their last mortal breath.
He knows her heart wanders like her wet eyes,
That the turn of her wrist, the bones of her little finger entice—
Although everything else is thickly swaddled,
Her steps muffled and awkward,
Her speech timid and reactive.
Somehow without paint she is a Jezebel
Born into subtle politics,
A temptress so wiley that
Her own abilities are beyond her understanding.
Her short unpolished nails are talons
To sink into the hearts of the unwary.
She is small, plain, obscure, poor—
She can surely possess neither heart nor soul—
And so she is despised
Even as she is feared.
Christina Petrides is an expatriate American living on a small Pacific island where all the palm trees and the magpies are imported, but the rice wine is indigenous and delicious.