If I could just touch your ankle, he whispers, there on the inside, above the bone—leans closer, breath of lime and pepper—I know I could make love to you. She considers this, secretly thrilled, though she wasn’t quite sure what he meant. He was good with words, words that went straight to the liver. Was she falling for him out of sheer boredom— cooped up in this anything-but-humble dive, stone gargoyles leering and brocade drapes licked with fire? Her ankle burns where he described it. She sighs just as her mother aboveground stumbles, is caught by the fetlock—bereft in an instant— while the Great Man drives home his desire.
"Hades' Pitch", from Mother Love by Rita Dove. Copyright © 1995 by Rita Dove. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.