Perhaps he was a bit different from other people,
but what really sympathetic person is not a little mad?
Inside the cabinet that still sticks when it’s humid,
you wait inside a deck of cards just as I thought
we were through playing games. A monk shuffles
through his meditations in silence. I cut the deck
as fall turns into itself in its own way, unable
to change its vision to satisfy me. I spread our lives
all over the floor. Cross-legged, Corfu-sun mad,
I am a grubby queen, loyal but not faithful, my braid
something you would tear to keep as a tributary
to you. A hermit queues up to lead the procession
of dead. His heart is a winter hive that I have
scraped free of sticky honey. It’s the time of year,
when clothes are rummaged through and bagged
for the poor. I can’t bear to lose the last scraps
of your smell. I watch your breath rise in the morning.
Nights before I fall asleep, I lose sight of your masked
face. The dead hold their shoes and tiptoe past
our beds while we sleep. Lately, I light all the lamps
in the house to warn you off. You won’t hold still
long enough for me to crawl inside your dusty coat
and release your demons into the wild air. As I finish
my supper, you place a piece of bread onto my tongue.
I spread the cards to reveal a better future. Tonight,
I will stuff your patched flannel shirt with leaves
in their patterns of splattered blood. I’ll surround you
with every hanged man in the deck and force
your hand. Tomorrow, I will sit with you
as we doze on the porch. The buttons I’ve sewn on
for your eyes will glitter madly as if you know
for certain what will become of us.