late on Friday night Cousin Pan knocked at my door
and surprised, hopeful, I nearly opened it –
nearly opened up my whole heart and hearth to her,
nearly let that little girl in from the cold.
and cold it was, and she cried on the stoop for hours and hours
’til exhausted, I threw a pillow over my head
and thus deafened I crashed into sleep.

in the morning I felt awful; she’s family, after all
(damnit, Lady Grey, you’re not my real aunt!)
so I soothed her with vinegar and salted butter
and warmed her with blankets and still she cried!
so I did the only thing I could muster the strength for –
I pushed old goth rock and the Xena theme in my ears
and as if the door was a mirror between us,
together again we rocked, and wept and wept.

hours later when my weary, wary limbs
were dragged through the shower and to the clothesline for stockings
and out the door to face the mad world outside
I felt her follow me, sitting in the back seat
sniffling and snuffling and threatening a fight
and when I said ‘no!’ she bit me, hard,
and kicked the headrest and I was dizzy all night.

I was dizzy through dinner and faint through the speeches
and the dancing made my head spin and spin
and everything she said, they said, echoed in my anxious head.
but all through it I tugged that tie, pulled it toward me
I never stopped tugging though panic and nausea,
though the perpetual pulling kept me seatbound, silent.
and when at last I went to bed with my love,
he took the thread gently between his teeth and cut me loose.

I win this round, little Pan –
I came out on top and I’m brushing me off;
but we all know this isn’t over.