"Here's the smell of the blood still."

The child I bear in nightmare arrives
dead between my thighs,
smeared with royal blood
from the crown
of its head down its spine.
Hair clings to the back
of its neck like matted fur
on a wounded hunting dog,
and its little hands do not
uncurl.

The future king comes
to the bedside, holding
two clean daggers
by the blades,
and I do not let him
see the baby
until blood from his fingers runs
down to the hilts.
I take the knives and let the first
palmful of bloodshed sink into my hands
as he stands open-mouthed over the body
and mistakes me for a woman
who would kiss her dead
child back into life.

The baby is too stiff
at my feet to be
raised like a king,
its mouth too small to hold all
the poison that thickens
in mine. I wake
alone, with my hands
pressed to the wall
in the unlit hallway.