This town in muted pumpkin tones and crackle-dry from thick trees wide and sun

St. Thomas' statue stretched to bells, the stones low and flat and warm enough to lie and watch

one-by-one

two-by-two

coffee-quick steps and an autumn slow

The farmer's market is punctual and grinning, secluded by a baked goods mecca and a shop of tiny fragile missing things

Then you came to visit

And we talked.

We talked, and we walked on church and cobblestone and market cement after the sun went down; drizzle and wind gave names to the skin of our palms and the lids of our eyes.

The hole in my right glove widening over my ring finger, the anticipation of hot soup chilling our bellies.

We talked a story, slow at first like forgotten arts, then in and down as you were the devil then a genius then a killer from a galaxy long-time coming.

I was an innocent, a guardian, a pretender to the throne – one by gorgeous one as we slid in and out of realities until our bones creaked under the weight of them, fault lines in the sidewalk along the places where our minds slammed together and grappled for creative dominance, exploding kaleidoscopic lenses bleeding vicious color into a singularity of fifty pressing worlds on our backs

You found every fairy door in every kitschy bake shop, pulled me down by the hair and screamed, See? This is what you've been missing, with your empty equation notebooks and terror of the simple symbols that tell you what I am, and this is all you wanted from me, and I will give it to you like I have for so many rumbling false-drunk years, pushed back and back until we can't hear our own voices and no one knows who first slammed shut the desk and said I am a king's man, we are ambassadors to the people we will never become. I have only asked for the parts of you that you cannot see and were not using anyway.

And in response I smiled wide enough to cut my head away for a moment or two, and said

yes of course of course i love you, i will do this thing

Now, a flame-dark princess lives among the empty columns of the farmer's market, trapped in eternal questing conversation with a white and faceless shark. Echoes of her live into the daytime, lurking behind bustling tabletops in the noon-dimmed spaces

Now, the leaf-strewn side streets are littered with the conversation between two old soldiers who should never have met, romantic words of shouting shuttered dreams

Now, the five o'clock bells resonate in jaw-shaking throbs with the desperate moralizations of a wise man in potentia and the sweet-sugar repercussions that swim out like waves of rupture sound

Now, my way is built of stronger stuff, and I skin my knees on cobblestones cemented tight by brash daydreams rough against my bare feet

We laid these whispering bricks as heat rose behind our ribs and escaped shining from our ragged laughing throats

I've tried so hard to find your real handprint here, without the precious filter of rainwater refraction you have given me so freely

but this is your own fault

You know my affinity for maudlin breezes strong enough to stretch tears up my temples when I do not have the depth to cry

You have done this thing to every place I've ever loved.

We have walked at autumn-pace, and now this town is you.

Nights I wonder, curled around a house that drags my lungs to the surface of me, if we are one-by-one or two-by-two.