The ache-beast crouches low, a grim skull-cap,
digging dry fingers into my temples,
gnawing holes through my scalp, stealing all my best lines,
sucking me hollow like a blown egg.
Thirty-three days now, and I am empty of ideas.
The beast is proof against the chemical and herbal arts;
sleeping has not dislodged it, nor idleness, fresh air, laughter;
I have tried reason, and equally, despair.

Unwilling host, I must carry this scaly creature,
proceeding under its weight as if all were well.
I must walk the given paths, observe the patterns,
like the ladies who leave the village at first light
and go by sunrise to the dusty midsummer trickle,
to dip and lift their pails, barely getting them wet,
in order that the river will not forget its promise
to return here when the rains come.