Prose: The Lamb by Eileen R. Tabios
She mourns his departure though he has yet to turn towards the door. He even tries to check her grief with a paltry joke. But both realize she is compelled by self-defense. So she must continue, and he must not object. She must continue her tears. They fall like a reluctant daylight.
Once, he tried for permanence and asked her to tea. Though she consistently attempts to solidify the memory of their communion by recalling how the air turned as florid as mint concentrate lingering on her tongue, he never repeated the occasion of "welcomed conflagration." One evening, after he cast away the world by shutting the door into his destitute studio, he walked towards a mirror. His face relaxed into an unsmiling gravity. His face relaxed, though he shook his head at recognizing the million slivers that comprised the reflection.
She knows he is trapped by his selfishness. He believes it too late to change direction, except perhaps to marry an heiress who would be generous without demands. He would not mind an English butler. It would facilitate listening to Puccini without worrying about the finity of time. He envisions himself in a book-lined room, his feet lifted atop a damask-covered ottoman as his fingers waltzed to notes weighting the air. Perhaps a high note would evoke regret, but he would survive that. Perhaps a high note would evoke her, and he would survive that, too. And if ever an heiress pops her innocent face through the 16th century mahogany doorway, her face would be as blurred as his sight is clear on what is entailed by sacrifice.
"The Lamb" is one of the poems in Tabios' forthcoming poetry collection REPRODUCTIONS OF THE EMPTY FLAGPOLE to be published in 2003 by Marsh Hawk Press (New York).