Sarah B. Boyle
The Pig of the Secret
Suffice the saying
these things are
[ the cloven womb
gangly, goose-necked and bone-hard & white]
[ the strobe quickening in the gut ]
[ the suckling knit from combed wool & sinew ]
No, not her stories,
still they led her to the bar by her neitherways,
ouvert and all.
I'll wear the gold comb in my hair, O.
My hair is is is
Rubine red, stop-sign red.
My hair is red-red, O.
He said your hair is
but he was sweet about it
so I licked the beer from his beard, O.
In the ladies', the ladies', O.
O, his grizzly muzzle
O, his cinnamon paws
O his fish breath & O his belly roar
O his roric snout O his pink tongue O the pink tongue secret.
I took the comb,
a token of my appreciation, he said, O!
The man will not tell Dedre what secret he's stowed between her ears
She isn't to know
Maybe if she'd asked, when he'd put it there
that night in the ladies'
So she asks and asks
a chick opening its mouth to the sky
waiting for a rain of worms
When she asks what he has stowed between her ears
he tells her
it's a pig
imagine a pig: bristled and moist on the snout
He tells her
not to worry
the pig probably will be fine
in the end
So long as wears her hair wrapped around her ears
and the comb in her hair
and keeps her mouth shut
He sends her to a building with snakes on the sign
His friends will keep the secret safe for her
His snake-friends gave her medicine and told her
it must be administered buccally
So she looked it up
she puts the medicine
between her cheek and gums:
fizzzzzzz like that ?
Her teeth hum
Hmmmmmm she pictures the pig
—she's so obedient—
snouting its way through the fizzles
She opens her mouth for the worms
then remembers to keep it shut
The morning smelled like metal It was
a fork tine on a filling in a molar
Her hair kept her brains
between her ears
in the cold
The comb pressed its teeth against her scalp
When she first got the pig
She thought it would be her mouth
tongued it away
but the medicine she cheeked
made her mouth a featherbed
And she knew it would keep the pig safe
The secret was hers now
Fully a pig in her mind
but was it safe there?
Dedre feared for the secret
She in her mind watched it trotter
its way out of whichever
orifice felt most vulnerable that minute
Last night she put away the ouvert for good
Crossed combs in her hair to bind it over her ears
Considered plugging her nose
a clothes pin?
Thank goodness her eyeballs filled their sockets so roundly
The metal air mixed with exhaust and Dedre got on the bus
She sat directly between the driver
a woman with breasts of ironwood
and a halitosied man who sloshed over the three seats of the back bench
They never listen to
She hadn't heard the rest
Pins and needles through her chest, her face
He knows and she knows
worry is worry for a reason
She plugged her index finger against the nostril not currently in service
The bus reeled
They like me, O.
Or what they fill me with, O.
They fill me with beer, O.
O, I fill me—O—with Schnapps.
Not poison pills, O no!
But pills that keep what's in
The pills can't keep what's out
But, the snake men say, the snake men say: O,
the pills don't always
keep what's in
We can help you get another secret
Another pig, the other snake-man says, O.
Inside, if you like
I'd like a small Schnapps on the rocks.
Cinnamon, cinnamon, O.
O, where did the man with the cinnamon paws
Sometimes the snake men call me O, Cinnamon
my hair, you see, O.
Report on the Secret
A. Skull–Contents of
submitted in 7 cassettes
fresh pinkish greyish tissue
a book cipher of a more recent edition
trisomy and monosomy of [ ]
data lost digested recombined
is a possible partial pig
is growing smaller, blacker eyes filled with rheum
is a partial, a hypoplastic mole
growing claws and gone blind in the
in the aftermath
nose searching worms for the teeth to bite
eating the worms it finds with its nose
Dedre hid the golden comb
and the report
beneath her pillow
They didn't tell her the report would be—
well, they didn't tell her anything
The snake men in their penny loafers
cut the pig from her
while she was sleeping
freed her hair from her ears
drew the pig, the secret through the ear drum with alligator forceps
and gave her the report
She already knew the pig would grow to be a girl
She dreamed she gave the girl the golden comb
to put beneath her pillow
and together they waited for the man with cinnamon paws to come
With her mother one spring they sat on the bed
her father dead for nearly a day
a silver comb beneath his pillow
—that was how the folk got him—
the keening of her mother
the screaming barn owls
how their chicks sounded like pigs waiting for the slop
How soon her mother threw the comb in the river
though Dedre wanted it for herself
Now her ear was a pillowy silence
She wanted to read the report again
or spread the flames of her hair across her barrel-chested bear man
or hold the comb to the throat of
it didn't matter
She waited for the keening
the singing to start