She looked up from the past,
Do you believe in magic? she asked.
No, I answered.
And yet you believe you can do it, she said
laying the faded picture on the table.
I know, I answered,
I believe in words, I answered.
The sepia partially peeling
the white of the underlying cardboard visible through the cracks
the bud closed
asleep inside the photographer’s eternal click of adulation.
I know, I answered.
Where are we? someone asked.
I undid your shoes, removed them,
ascertained there are no toes left inside
then dropped them into the floor
listening to the gulp of satisfaction
as the tiles opened
swallowing shoes and no-toes
followed by the next floor’s sigh of delectation
then the next...
How many floors this building? I asked.
These are clouds, you answered.
I pulled down your stockings,
glimpses of pale flesh lining thigh bones
there, so close to life,
invaded my vision
before you modestly pulled the skirt back to your knees,
watching my face sink into the rustling nylon
to inhale skin’s pellicle
and drops of sweat
and the perfumes of intimate you,
later allowing stockings to follow the shoes’ way,
the floor shivering in exultation
and engorged delicacies.
your skirt forgotten half thigh up
blatantly infringing upon my sense of propriety
not that any was left
in the wake of that first glimpse,
your skirt inching even higher
as you reached for the bulb... the sun, you objected...
watching incandescence glide down your arms
and into your sleeves,
your skirt flirting with a beguiling floor
intent on swallowing the rest of the wear
and fleshwear and bonewear and marrowear... you.
Growls inside the desperado
Watching desert’s rhyme tornado
Braid long petals to your lashes
And the snippet blazing ashes
Grazing down your blushing cheek’s
Where are we? someone asked.
Thousands of books
your walls bulging outwards with the weight of top shelves,
poetry, all generations
from the ancients of Homerus, of Ovidus, of Nossis
and Myro and Antye and Ossian...
through the classics of Omar, and Bill, and that Rabi from India, and Bob and Liz,
and then the other Bob...
and finally to the forest of moderns like E.E., like Maya, like Freddy...
no no, not fingernails Freddy, the Lorca one...
and Pablo called Pavel in Russia and Paolo in Italy and Paul in all the states
except for Miami,
and of course Charlie and the billions of others,
I wonder if all are there... hey, they are, I see my name... brand new,
hmmm... never opened it, did you?
Oh, I should have mentioned Emily too, no?
I start pulling out books
open at a random page and lay down on the floor... cloud!... you insist,
face up, a mix of them all
ancients and classics and moderns and me
the mass and the expensive and the unique and the autographed
then reach into my pocket to pull out thousands of candles
and light them between the books
burning letters reflecting inside your eyes
and on the moisture of your lips as the tip of your tongue sneaks out,
I point to a word - dance! it says... says?...
and you skip onto Myro,
then from Myro on to Maya,
then from Maya to Ovidus and from Ovidus to Bill and from Bill to Bob
and every toe you touch to Nossis
drops a golden coin
and every heel you touch to Omar
crushes a grape
and every passing shadow over Homerus
releases a dove
never ever touching a candle as the floor... cloud!... fills with feathers
and beetles and marbles and swirling dust and decaying sunsets
and you are about to fall into the abyss
there where humans looking up wonder at candles falling from the sky
and toes displacing galaxies into rhyming constellations
and hands dragging you back
into the ribbons,
Look, you say,
pointing to a clump of burning coal,
a breathing dragon of red and purple and amber
enchased inside your bare heel...
I stepped on your book... you say,
and I look away
unable to watch you pour wine over it
and create mists of butterflies.
Swirls the light in adulation
Gleaning tints of inspiration
From your eye’s impatient twinkle
And your eyelid’s silver tinkle
And that shy beyond despair
Where are we? someone asked.
I rolled the marbles and shooed the doves and snowed the feathers,
seas cowering under bouncing white
and poppies turning bleeding pilgrims
inside an ocean of innocence,
I lulled the beetles into swagger
and slurped the grapes stuck between your toes
and dropped the coins into the sunsets
and swept the dust to the flo... cloud... thanks,
I glued the torn pages and ironed the crumpled ones
and returned the books to the shelves
and blew the smoldering ashes of mine into the sun’s left eye...
lie down, I urged,
shearing your satins and your wools and your laces to swathe your wound.
You cannot heal this wound, you said
guiding my hand a butterfly’s breath away from your body
pointing, then pointing,
the leftover silks melting under a palm
reluctantly exploring moonscapes and comet tails and geyser wells,
skin spots blistering, exploding,
sending long corona feelers to wrap around my fingers and wrist
imploring for the clemency
of killing the butterfly’s breath and gripping, groping, grabbing...
make love to me, you begged,
I cannot make love to an idol without killing it, I answered...
kill me, you begged,
I cannot kill you without dying, I answered...
die, you begged,
I will, once I finish worshipping you, I answered...
and then will you make love to me? you begged,
and then may I make love to you? I begged.
I caught a passing drop of rain
and started peeling it
layer after layer
to each a color, a fluttering softness,
the variegated touch of a weltering deluge,
and I covered your body pellucid bark
ankle to knee
and then knee to thigh
and then closed my eyes thigh to hip
before opening once more when the tip of your breast sizzled
and the hollow of your shoulder boiled
and your mouth accepted in sacrifice
pieces of my lips
and leftovers of my breath.
And the taste of sadness lingers
In that nook between my fingers
Hosting apples sweetly rotten
Herds of shivers misbegotten
And that most sublime of tunes...
The bud still closed,
its red heart enshrouded forever inside that unreachable seclusion,
sepia sepals crumbling away into decay...
you failed, she wished to cry, crying,
about to turn away
I did not, I claimed,
grabbing her shoulder, holding,
you chose the wrong reality, I claimed once more,
close your eyes and then... read me again, I begged.
I helped her close those nightful eyes
and open those sunful lips
and then I started reading me,
and as her involuntary echo turned her voluntary narration
and lashes began to lift pouring flowers down her cheeks
I eased out the door
pulling it softly shut behind me. Click.
I heard the tidal waves of lilac break against the heavy oak
the thin trickle beneath the door smelling strangely
like a mixture of summer
and of woman.