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Rustle

November 9, 2007

Are you Monarch or moth
or some manner of the Ten
Thousand Things?

First, you light my hair
azure against black, my ladies
hushed and gasping as you breathe

your wings open and closed.
Another, midnight sky caught
where my robes brush the floor.

Their chatter dies with the two
perched — one on each wrist — pieces of summer
sky between swiftly swimming clouds.

I reach down, nothing moving
but the steady winking of your blue
wings, and tug undone my obi.

Silk after silk kimono
flare out, loose, edges lining
my bare breasts, pelvis, inner thigh

in the moonlight. One gentle shrug
and they all fall to the floor.
In handfuls of color you cover

me, midnight at my ankle, cold
dawn my crown, shallow ocean
cupping curve to curve to curve.

Small bodies, thin filaments of sky
and sea, hold such heat!
I turn in wonder, the small gusts

brushing my skin, raise my right wrist
to cover my mouth to laugh with joy,
when I hear you singing.

This is the chrysanthemum sound
I keep with me as you lift
in a single motion, as I pool naked

on my side on the floor, as ten years
pass in this forgotten palace wing until
my hair is cut to tonsure and I serve

the Buddha, this the one song on his lips,
never again having seen the face of my Prince.

by Mary Alexandra Agner

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  1. Christina Pacosz
    November 27, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Great poem that explores all the possibilities inherent in a hypothetical moment of a blue butterfly landing on a woman’s black hair.

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