The baker's body was found, spiced
with cloves and wrapped
in the lost lyrics of Sappho.
For years, he lay in the sand, her song
against his cheek: thin fire
runs like a thief through my body.
A single feather drifts
out of the sky, but the rook flies on.
Not broken, not beyond repair,
but gone--the whole
that leaves behind a part, a city
humbled to its artifacts:
plate, doll, ring.
A tube of lipstick,
fallen from a boat,
rusts at the bottom of a lake--
even daylight crumbles
into sleep: its fragments bob and nod
to one another as they pass.
And figments of the night
linger during breakfast,
where the scent of China tea still clings
inside an empty pot.
One of the Shapes
These figs: meaning Eden over and over.
A paperwhite narcissus by the bed.
We lie on damp sheets, windows open to a garden
where, the quince blooms a fever of blooms, bares
its desire like breasts. The women who blackened
their teeth for beauty were not unlike the quince--
they gilded their lower lips, rouged the tips
of their tongues.
That shape, veiled, unveiled.
Skunk cabbage lifting its hooded spathe along
the water's edge: a foetid stink. And the rank
of a bitch fox on warm air. Tonight we'll hear
yelping to be mated, a need sharp as those barks.
If I wash at my mirror, the shadow cast is vixen-like:
its movement disturbs the room. All March, her
Copyright c 2007 by Mary Cornish. May not be
reproduced without permission.