? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 7

Fiction

Airea D. Matthews

The Mine Owner's Wife


The bone china has been laid out. The napkins, threadbare but antique, yellowing. One gold-rimmed plate with butter in the trench. The Wife asks, “How was your day?” His coal mine mouth opens to make an utterance, manages only soot and one yellow canary. The canary, its wings blackened and broken, tangles itself in the web above their heads, suspend­ed in the pedalogue of the chandelier. The spider eyes its din­ner, sharpens its knife against its claw; its mouth whetted. The Mine Owner drags his fork’s sharpened tine against his lip, rents his tongue. He bleeds all over the napkin, makes pink the butter dish. His wife hands him her crystal goblet. He wrings his tongue out over her glass, funnels garnet into her bowl. He handles the stem of his own, fills it. They toast.