a wise woman by artist frank howel

I join the festivities of life with an open heart
the wise one smiles from the corner
holds up a mug with a question in her eyes
yes I am thirsty
thirstier than the crone could know

a baby sweet crawls
pulling at my skirt
I coddle him melting
into his beautiful little face
he grabs at my bodice hungrily
no mother in sight
he bites the tender flesh of my arm
but I do not wince
remembering the eagerness of babies

the wise one comes offering me a cup
and strokes my cheek as she does so
with this all-knowing look
I shake the strange familiarity off
shake off the warmth of her smile
and I drink
the babe wanders away still thirsty
my eyes follow him knowingly
and I draw deep from this steamy mug
but within me comes a burn
mistaken, untasted, over-indulged
fear not headed, fear not stepped into
what is my folly

I look to the now raised teeth marks upon my arm
I prefer this pain to that
life and it’s questions
youth and its hunger
if I must feel
bite me again