a photograph of stone garden walls
and green plants that leaf in their own time,
swirling around her like bits of glass
hurled in a still life, like
a mobile exploding from her fingers.
A woman whose matted hair is unintended
a woman whose eyes I still remember
stands in studied confluence of ambient light
that underscores the coarseness of her skin.
She sweeps her kingdom with a book in hand.
The photograph was taken by a friend.
Metaphors of old shoes cloud
her stillness like comforts of religion,
or caring letters from a sister in Michigan.
Each fails to understand: caged eyes conceal
the symmetry of Japanese gardens, her veins
the smoothness of porcelain bathrooms.
She cares for nothing but the growing season,
the need for Telemann and a rising hour.
For all her plants are dying in their bloom,
and algebraic tranquility descends
upon their browning shadows
as dead things take their place within her womb.
I choose lavender
to slay the Hindu’s tongue,
charming me to rise upon
my coils, a secret flute.
Money is the object
our poverty of feeling.
We kiss in pennies,
scorning our eucharist—
our sodden bread
minted in wine,
in the nursing home of night.
This cup is mine.
In offering to change it,
you deprive me of shoots,
an empty tomb.
It is time
for introductions to be made:
I am fiction
born in fact,
harboring a science
of concealed weaponry.
I am pleased
to meet a study
for the prize.