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Sarah Beddow

The Pig of the Secret

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Suffice the saying

                                       these things are
not Dedre's
                          to tell

[   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.


Dedre Speaks

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
slut red
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
             he said
                          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


Dedre Speaks

They like me, O.
                              Or what they fill me with, O.
They fill me with beer, O.
With pills
                                    O, I fill me—O—with Schnapps.

Not poison pills, O no!
But pills that keep what's in
                                                         in, O.

The pills can't keep what's out
                                                           out, O.

But, the snake men say, the snake men say: O,
the pills don't always
keep what's in
                                            in, O.

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
             my hair, you see,  O.


Report on the Secret

A. Skull–Contents of

is fresh
                          submitted in 7 cassettes
                          received fresh
                          fresh pinkish greyish tissue

is coded
             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
             cloven   dirty

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

is vestigial
is female
is missed             


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

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