He hands down the sun. He picks our planet’s lock.
The stars perch on his outstretched arm, sides sharp
as beaks. Swung out into flight, they carry his word’s
weight. They return, claws clutching a stricken
rabbit’s carcass. He skins it with a glance, roasts
it over a pyre. He skins us of our clothes and we
lie across the plate of his bed’s porcelain spread.
He makes of us a meal, he picks our bones clean.
Up and down and all over the hills we run our hands,
and the sun comes down so hard that looking at him
is drinking fire from the cups of eyes. We once knew
him wheat, a gold square of pasture eyed from miles
above. Gold: we loved to look down, sink to linger.
Sun-struck, sunstroke, our long illness now begins.
How fever writhes the thatched roof of this house.
How by the end he hasn’t untouched one bit of us.
Three blood drops on the snow, ink stains welled up
on a handkerchief. A falcon wounds a wild goose, so
three drops of blood fall on the snow. Frozen in his
saddle, spear held erect, his posture expressed hostile
challenge. It’s said by memory’s complexion he was
transfixed: lip’s rose embroidering body’s white sheet.
They broke his trance by draping a yellow scarf over
the drops. They gave him back to war and reason.
And the sun comes down so hard when looking at him—
as an image is struck onto the face of a coin, the eye
sends its beam into the beholder’s eye, striking the face
into dismay, knocking out whole hunks of wall till all
that’s left is rubble and dust. Wooly clouds of smoke
pile up in the sky. Troops menace a horizon.
Three gold hairs caught by the teeth of his comb.
I would not exchange them for the Empire of Rome.
A historic hotel is the setting for the hysteria that ensues
once those yellow notes are plucked from his throat.
A falcon wounds a wild goose, three drops of blood fall
on the snow. We lay our cards out on clean sheets, sip
gin and play rummy. I don’t know how to play, so how
can I win? Whose bluff is whose. Ours is a classic drama,
tears pulled like strings from the eyes. I’d never slept
in a room so fine, on such a bed, so soft and high, never
began to think I’d lose my mind over a good-bye, O,
the many tears plopping into a chalice. He picked the stars
up and screwed their bulbs back into the sky! I’ve locked
myself inside the bathroom, drunk chilled vodka straight
from the bottle. He’s at the door, knocking gold flakes
off his knuckles. Three gold hairs, the teeth of his comb.
I would not exchange them for a cartload of emeralds
or carbuncles. The floor’s cool tiles. My fever’s begun.
Coup-de-Soleil first appeared in Boston Review, September/October 2006.