her pulse flutters butterfly-languid against the press
of your ringèd fingers; she is mercurial, versatile in your embrace,
all-knowing and yet blessedly mute.
the smooth scrape of her lips upon your cheek is condemning,
and the trail of her fingertips as she drops your cufflinks to the floor
is at once infused with curiosity and laced with despair.

you don't tell her that those cufflinks
were a gift from your youngest daughter
on the tenth anniversary of your fairytale marriage;
she knows everything, after all, even if she cannot speak of it.

you whisper words of empty promise into the hollow
of her delicate, sun-pooled throat, the concavity of her navel,
the shell of her reassuringly receptive ear,
murmuring of diamonds and certificates and faith.
she is the consummate actress, the perfect debutante;
her parries are demure inanities,
and in such docile acceptances lies the path to deceit.

time's sands reverse, a flash, and her pulse quickens, scorn darkening
her features, lending them a fury-graced immortality.
she is beautiful, now, alluringly complex, and this is what you desired:
an unknown variable factored into love's trite equations.
her lack of jealousy becomes irrelevant.

vases smash against far east tapestries, priceless filigree
shattering into a thousand purposeless pieces;
it is a perfect complement to the three dozen roses you'd brought.
later, she strips her house of its vintage wallpaper, crumbling goldenrods
against bare, silent expanses. on plaster and concrete framework,
she layers worshipful photographs of you instead.
the collage is star-stunning in its mocking reflections,
and you think perhaps she is fortunate to have known your love.

October 8, 2005
the bare nocturne