The Signatory

by Megan Arkenberg

Never trust a man with hair as red

as the flames from a church’s roof on a winter night,

a man with six brothers and six uncles,

or one born with a caul. Don’t trust a man

with needle-holes tracing the edges of his quietly

smiling lips, or one whose kisses taste of cinnamon,

cheap whiskey, mistletoe and salt.

Don’t trust a man who knows how to open a vein

with a pocketknife and a match, who knows

how to fill a quill from his wrist and write

without blotting, who carries ivory chessmen

in the pocket over his heart. Don’t trust a man

too quick to offer what isn’t his to give—

a wife, a soul, a head with no neck attached—

or one content to hide in shadows. And never,

Never trust a man who refuses

to step outside his circle of salt, or one

who blesses himself before he shakes your hand,

or one who knows enough to glance behind you

for the tracks your hooves leave in the snow.

Megan Arkenberg lives in northern California, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in English literature. Her poetry has been published in dozens of places, including Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Asimov’s, and Polu Texni, and her short fiction has most recently appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and GlitterShip. She procrastinates by editing the fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance. Find her online at:“The Signatory” was previously published in Flytrap #11, March 2014.