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I am the mildest of creatures, spell-bound,
gossamer, a thorn jutting. The nox diva

inside the mushrooms growing on the mound
where I buried you. First there is nausea,
sweats, my gut turning. Then you open up

inside my skull-bone; a whiskey cactus,
melting. A mushroom is like a polyp;

I’ve found both on you. I turn, like Horace,
into your well-mannered court slave. Ghost slave.

Slave of a ghost. Each time you slide into
my mouth you leave part of yourself behind.

One day I’ll consume you all. Then your grave
will stand empty. I can’t let go of you,

no-no, even if I was so inclined.

* * *


Nox diva is my attempt at translating the phrase “night goddess” into Latin.

Horace was one of Rome’s greatest poets, one whom the English poet John Dryden dismissed as “a well-mannered court slave.”