To the Altar of Adonis



His wizard eyes are gray blue black
Green with the glints of the belly of the ocean tide.
Dusk-ensnared, they stirred in her the rush
That swells, subsides, and swells again,
And crashes on the shore.

Once, they – the in-thrall, the aching inamoratas – they
Preyed upon him.
With vulture looks, they kissed his eyes.
Those oil-slicked, womb-spun pearls –
They longed to pluck them out.
They dreamed
Dreamed this lonely black stallion
A sun, that traced the cosmic pathways,
And bore on his scorched coat,
A sheen, irradiated with starlight.

And she, too, wanted him, wanted him
A button-eyed doll in her searching hands,
Wrapped in tidings of fire,
A feast for waiting maws,
With a beating, starving little heart to feed upon –

Yet when she wandered toward his shadowed sea,
Stepped off the beach, and plunged beneath the star-splashed waves,
In the depths, she met
A heart, his human heart,
Born on the husk of the moon,
As cold as the face it hides from the sun.

From golden fancy and madman alchemies,
What had she at last distilled?
No coffers here of scented silks, enamel gourds or silver lace.
No promises at least of glory days,
Of kingdoms waiting to be built and soldiers to be made.

Above, the surface tension breaks to ease the mighty hulls
But moments later knits their wakes and seamless glides the moon.
So pacing through the ruined gates of citadels consumed,
His heart gave in to stone and sand, became the likeness of the dead,
A grace note on their tombs.

A broken little figure, a nothing still unnamed, unmade.
A man undone, cloaked and sunk on an outcast tide –
A ship-abandoned anchor
Without altar to his fame.

Then from shame, she wished she’d brought a better gift
Than scrolls of rote desire.
So into his chill, her longing melted,
Warm and wild, it overflowed.
If it was love – how could she know?