raven-throated nights of chanting,
vats of honey to swim your name in
are the least of it.
To your symbol and substitute,
wound round waxen neck,
I address my prayers and pleas.
Each time you falter,
your tiny twin, lumpen manikin,
as the levy’s paid.
If only I hadn’t hidden him
He’s contracted a lust for gems.
To keep your love fresh, he demands
an exaction of emeralds,
a toll of tourmalines.
For each kiss I sacrifice a ruby,
a bracelet’s mocking clasp,
and vows ring true only
in gold bands’ currency.
For tonight’s caresses,
what ransom will I pay?
My cupped hands tremble,
Sandi Leibowitz is a native New Yorker who sings classical music, teaches, and writes fiction and poetry, mostly speculative. Her works appear in such places as Goblin Fruit, Best Horror of the Year, vol. 5, edited by Ellen Datlow, and Strange Horizons. You may visit her raven’s nest at sandileibowitz.com.