That summer we ran out of the chapel
there were letters in great piles,
crisp, autumnal; every stamp
a tiny flattened kingdom
of the way we were, a miracle
to each other. That summer
you had a cathedral of a voice:
allium, bergamot, cosmos, dogwood;
pimpernel, quaking grass, rose;
all gathered before you for beading,
you stretched alive in warm melanin,
your body not a temple
but everywhere, everywhere biblical
with deeds, until it slid out under you
in a mellifluous belt of cancers.
That summer the roses grew by your bed
in piles; hair, in marvelous yellow stains,
every bloom a new unruly root,
whatever I meant to say losing out,
receding into its impossible mutations.
I wondered what cruel course of
evolution brought us to this point,
to this whorl of linens,
to this growing mass at your bed.
Erring, you roused: bald brimming,
leonine in your lair,
a poem of sheets pooling away,
away from the rest of us,
moored by healthy manes and never going there.
Allium, you said. Cosmos.
You stood by the window, hands
on the morning. I saw them
quaking against sheer light,
fingers and mullions lettering a rose.