Mi Caballero Infernal

for Carlos Hernandez

most days he is mostly human,
or seems so:

writes dexterously, swears joyously, wears sweatshirts,
checks his iPhone, showers daily, bemoans the need for spectacles,
promenades amongst a virtual professoriate, holds office hours on Zoom,
drinks more coffee than is good for him, eats only cereal (except
when he comes flirting for a sweet thing, that he,
in his wisdom, requests I hide from him, in some dark corner
of my wardrobe, or high up on a shelf that is
mine alone, that he pretends he cannot see or reach).

you know.
normal things.

but then,
there are other signs,
some, extremely subtle:

a rectangular dent (only present in a certain
mood of mischief) appearing in the flesh beneath his left eyeball;
a tendency to prance or cannonball or piggyback–
with no provocation or otherwise word of warning–
and demand, in altered voice, “an ostrich with a diamond collar!
a ruby monkey! a zombie chicken with rockstar eyes, wheezing
with the agony of the damned!”
to bare his throat and bay for meat: rare, bloody;
for lujo rum in a dark and dusty bottle;
for a rainy day in Canada with a fine cigar; or,
spinning on his heel–pouncing!–he stares at me
with all the earnestness of a capricious spirit, and offers
anything–everything!–name a gift, he says–
“name it–and I’ll put a girdle round the Earth in forty minutes!”
as his eyes begin to glow,
not so subtly,
in the dark.

this is when I begin to suspect,
slowly and with circumspection
(with a growing sense of having thought this all before–
thought, yes, and been made to forget):

that it was not a man I married.
not an ordinary man.

no ordinary man.

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