Phantom Venus

when he turned,
…in method
…like a toppling wax figure…
……under a curator’s supervision
………in the impenetrable zero gravity…

of space

she felt something that had previously
escaped her:
the realization of sight, of
participation, finally, in the world
of the seen
that populous vector sketch
of contortionist splaying

she felt suddenly hot, flush from
those eyes, all of them,
on her…
his palm imprinted itself
on the glass of the door as he held it for her

it felt as if the long pane
was really the cold
glaze

of her cheek, his hand hot
against it—a father’s on a
fevered child

she wants to ask: is he truly
here, like her?

an inhabitant of the mists? does he
spend nights in dining cars
with brandy and cocoa, mystified?

does he believe it impossible—those
squash-colored, milky
evenings—
that a place so lovely can be so cruel?
a phantom’s venus
trapping venomous blindness
more fatal than a thousand
blunt teeth—

would it now appear like this? so simply
and almost routinely,
like the season’s first frost,
which dazzles the lingering buds after
a stilted night of restless shivering—

the thought of cold
brings her back to his hand, now
only a ghost’s
disappearing ID
those crescent prints regaining anonymity,
as if burned off by a doctor’s swab

she moves her eyes like building blocks
…up from the door…
……stacking details upon facts
………these sights that until now
had blurred together in an unrequited resignation,
being added
together to form
a real thing, a sight—her first—
her eyes as virgin in their function
as in their reciprocal dimension

his eyes like spiry elm branches
his eyes like a hunter
his eyes like relief

proving ever theory,
every synthesis
and synaptic, memory-like contortion
she’d enjoyed
dammed up and draining round the sides
onto long-abandoned farms
at once superfluous and fulfilled in that glance
like a prophecy forgotten,
recorded only
with the damp cinders of
a twig

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