KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Tanka Prose: 278 words

The Husband-Eater

by Bill Gottlieb

My new wife has captured a black widow spider in a glass.

She was in a box with my dead wife’s supplements, the pills that couldn’t stop cancer’s web from splicing to breast, liver, cavity and bones—the bones that were outlined in the hope-electrocuting “superscan,” which confirmed death was a matter of time, time right by the weakening fly.

Yesterday a raven I love was cawing at my new wife’s old gray cat, now mine, too.

I happily clopped to the rangy back deck to check out ruff and cluck, and the burly bird blackly bolted, unfolded, flapped and floated below to behind the valley’s played-out drapery: the spring’s plagued pines, needles brown as a season’s terminating scatter; the brown wash of burn left by last fall’s wildfire, green fingers grabby from the birthing grave.

My new wife says to look at the red hourglass—blood drop by drop until the body is done—but I can’t manage to see it.

Nevertheless, she-venom, she-abdomen. Near the end, my dead wife’s cavity bulged tautly with spidery ascites, the pale, watery forebirth of her sally to littoral white, to the immaterial embrace of Mother-Light.

Hands scared, I walk through the lush brush past the peaked wisteria to the wire fence, turn the glass over, jounce it.

She holds for a mort while my heart echoes hers—mort, the lone note of the horn when the hunter has slain—then slews to a vanish, dark and determined, a horde in her, more everywhere.

Did you see her leave?
I ask my new wife, a story away.
She leans over, says
she is certain she did.
We smile, alive.

—Semi-finalist, KYSO Flash HTP Writing Challenge

Bill Gottlieb, CHC
Issue 6, Fall 2016

is a certified health coach, the author of 16 self-help health books that have sold three million copies and have been translated into 10 languages, and the former editor-in-chief of Rodale Books. His haibun have appeared in Modern Haiku, Contemporary Haibun Online, Haibun Today, Frogpond, cattails, and tinywords.

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