II.

Sometimes, when you stand in the pulpit and raise your arms to the congregation of shivering stars that is your audience, I see another secret of yours.

I cannot fathom any kind of blemish upon you. In my perfect bedlam, your flesh is veined white marble not native to this earth: firm and full but gentle and strong; entirely immaculate, every untouchable inch of you.

But as your hand soars to the heavens and your throat constricts for trying not to choke on your emotional stardust, I spy something foreign. Just past your pretty white collar, at the base of y our throat and on the left side of your adam's apple, I spy what is not meant to be seen: I see the frightened jagged tip of a knife.

A tattoo. It must be. It is most apathetic, atypical of your starch-and-metal profession, more scandalous than if we found a bone-china jewelry box in your dim cell— and that is would be empty of all but parchment, on which are scribed the sordid marquis' words in your own hand. So would be this mark of ink on your eternally clandestine flesh, the stain there glittering like black sweat. Stigmata, perhaps? You have yet another, a discreet sin; it is the cross around your neck also exists upon the underside of your right wrist. A reminder, perhaps, that your must refuse no one this communion, the bread that you bake with your sweat and the wine embittered/sweetened with your glassy tears.

No one notices your minuscule slight. Not this bolstering bishop with his powder fresh hands, not these plebeians who cling to and deify your every personification. You raise your hand to calm them, displaying your wound openly, but they notice it not; they are too fixated with that hand they fancy to be a holy wafer, and for it they are so hungry they can but imagine your fingers trapped in their needy mouths. They are cannibals for your brilliance. You cannot fight them or guide them, only blind them. You and your tiny tattoo.

But of the other? I can only wonder what it is and, as I said before, I won't dare imagine you without your shirt on.