You always made two cups of steaming tea, one for him
and one for you. Your tea was calming; you did not say
what his was intended to do. Even so, your muzzle
would sometimes wrinkle and twitch, your eyes glow
red. He could not tell when you were looking at him.
When he began discreetly pouring out his smoky tea into
the houseplants, they flourished as if you had spoken
to them every day for a year, given them pet names.
Your silk robe was embroidered with the likenesses
of favorite herbs whose effects you’d memorized. He slunk
away, afternoons, coiling his barbed tail over his arm,
horns on the alert. He spent so much time watching you
steeping, so little time enjoying anything or anyone else.
He might as well have stayed home, taking his medicine.
Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: There’s an established collaboration between poet and artist [see Portage Magazine: A review of upper Midwestern writing, art, and culture]. The image is of a dark green floral embroidery on silk [walmart.com]
A grand addition to the post is the inspiring artist’s work referenced in the epigraph: