He writes with a black-marble pen on cream comb paper:

The ink is glossy black loops trailing the golden nib.

Cherry tobacco explodes between his ears as he pulls,

Realizing there are no I's to dot nor T's to cross in her name.

"You're a strange man, Arcite," she says to him, standing behind him,

"And I am sorry, but my answer is 'no.' Please."

Whatever she started to say, he never could decipher;

Assurbanipal and the court years behind, too many years behind.