Bartok’s Bluebeard

As what he felt was not choice, but obligation,

he hinged them together, mindfully,

like a Japanese folded screen. You are not merely

my connection to the world but my protection

from it, he told his wives. They cowered

beneath the threat of his verbal whip,

but loved him nonetheless.

Legend has it

he killed them one by one, to satiate

the hungry hate that filled him with such bitterness,;

but in truth, what he had hardly filled him at all,

and that devastation which occurred,

and for which he was eventually blamed,

was the result of tongue-lashed rivalry between them.

One swallowed the other, serpents,

as subtle, treacherous, and malicious

as any devil he had known,

gagging, gorging incontinently upon their tails.

In the end he put the last one out of her misery

as an act of kindness, and drowned

himself in tears.

A feeling, as existential and operatic,

as is imaginable,

of irredeemableĀ  responsibility.