XXI. Umbra

Total shadow

Faces me in my bed:

Darkness has grown more attractive of late

For light is not susceptible and will not mold into desired features

(And much of your face I have seen only in shadow)

Yet, for all my gentle coaxing

Gold does not come out of that inky palette

cast on the earth by the moon during a solar eclipse

XXII. Varicose

Permanently and abnormally

Perhaps painfully

We abandoned self-control

And the rigidity of constructives

In favor of softer pursuits

Where delicate crimsons shift onto your skin

And your smiles spontaneously

Widened

XXIII. Wintergreen

Evergreen plants with

Real leaves, green leaves

Are not indigenous to such parts

Choked as they are in sighs

Of years past

We went instead to the park

Where stiff winds repelled such mutterings

And herded them into the river

A river on which floated

red berries

XXIV. Xenon

Colorless, inert gaseous

Clouds sweep and scud across the sky

Moody and independent

Shying away from physical contact with kin

And yet running headlong into unlikely contacts

Only to glance back and dissolve in shame

(A glimpse at such an unsettled, graceful being

Tells me all I need to know)

This stormy day is your

element

XXV. Yield

To return

A smile, it is said,

Requires more energy than a scowl

I have done both today: you are an exhausting pastime

She seems more radiant than I

Yet she has smiled more

I wonder her secret, and pray never to realize it

For every smile seems to calculate

Another dip into the banks of entropy

for profit

XXVI. Zinnia

A plant with showy rayed flowers

Bloomed on warm concrete

Curling thorns around sable statues

You examined it, its extreme polarity, its marked angles

And wondered:

If it was a message from some observant zodiac

Then what would we make of it?

I threw my hands up in annoyance

(Another expenditure of energy

Or merely a repetition of such—

Such things are never abandoned)

The bloom in its element, entwined in sable:

Why did it grow?

Was it the haughty grace of feminine impropriety?

A desire for friction? Or just the aspirations

of various colors?