Robert said, “For this week’s prompt, pick a monster, make that the title of your poem, and then write the poem. Possible titles: “Frankenstein’s Monster,” “Dracula,” “Grover,” “Hitler,” etc. Or perhaps, you have a personal monster, which could be a person, an addiction, an event, etc.”
Here is my offering:
Madame Delphine LaLaurie
“These slaves were the property of the demon,
in the shape of a woman”
—The New Orleans Bee
11 April, 1834
We were before your freedom and peace. We were better.
Many hands have held the deed to 1140 Royal Street, but
it’s always been my house. Always will be too as long as
I who have no hands can choke a person from their sleep.
I sometimes wonder if the Quarter tour guides are aware
that every time they give their speech and list our crimes
I stand among the tourists taking snapshots of my house
and wait to hear news of my husband, why he isn’t here.
At market stood among the men plantations turned wild
whose unshaved faces turned in lust at me. Finest laces
tight against my frame. I buy a girl, the darkest they got,
and bring her home with me. Drain her eyes of vitreous
boiled in the sockets and, mixed with lilies, make a pulp
ground to powder which I brush on until my flesh lacks
any color, any stink. You see, was a ghost before I died,
palest of the native flowers, soft as clouds in moonlight.
Owned the men of class who looked at me. Only Louis
had the skill of taming and defaming tendon and bone.
He broke me like a mare, and made me his. What flesh
we tested once, what beauty did I find when his fingers
worked shoulders from a creature’s torso with his blade
or weaved a needle through the pink lips of a foul male
could not cease his pleas for help. Testicles and phallus
I’d lop off like chicken heads. My Louis like a maestro
used his scalpel like a wand, conducting off the organs.
In bed he’d whisper I was like that on the second floor
when tending to the royal and distinguished guests who
came into our house. More than delicate china patterns,
or fabrics ships brought from the Orient, I danced into
conversations, into men’s hearts. Without misstepping,
watched as all were drinking, singing, dancing delight.
Because I willed them. With a fat heart Louis extracts
from a slave’s chest, my lovely husband demonstrates
how much control I have of other men, and squeezing
it until the veins retract like springs, Louis let me know
how much his heart loves me. He traces bloody thumb
along my lips and, pulsing with desire, kisses me deep
as shackled slaves pinned to the wall look on and weep.