Lord Rauschebart’s Hands by Nancy Scott

Lord Rauschebart’s Hands
or Why Some Things Are Hard to Prove

Lord Rauschebart was not a handsome man:
bulbous nose, eyes set wide, thick brows, black
untamed beard that covered his chest like a bib,
but his hands were something else.

No one in the village could remember when
he wasn’t wearing finely-tooled leather gloves,
except for a woman, thought to be mad, who claimed
with her own eyes she’d seen his bare hands.

Soft and smooth like a baby they were. Each long
finger had a shiny nail painted the color of red wine.
You have dreamt this, the villagers said.
No, she said, I have felt them, too.

Others wanted to see a scar no matter how faint,
swelled joint, some flaw, to convince them
the stories they’d heard were true—
his hands had butchered five wives.

As villagers watched Lord Rauschebart gallop across
the fallows astride his black stallion, Bayard,
his retinue in tow, gossip scuttled back and forth—

He had his wives quartered, said the baker.
No, he did the deed himself, said the schoolmarm.
Four, not five, because one still lives, said the blacksmith.

And so it went, and we may never know the truth of it,
except that several wives have disappeared.


Nancy Scott is managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey, which has met continuously since 1973. She has also authored eight collections of poetry on various subjects, including social justice, humor, ekphrasis, memoir, fairy tales, and her career as a social worker assisting homeless families and abused children. She frequently exhibits her collages and acrylics in juried shows and in online and print venues. www.nancyscott.net

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