In the mirror he watches me
with scrutiny
a pleated brow and pinpoint eyes
lips sewn shut
and twisted at the corner
Disheveled, he might say
if his lips could part
or perhaps
he’d simply look away

“Ive always been fond
of red beards,” he told me
and I smiled
I get that a lot
yours, I added, is very nice too
more gray than rusty
more silver than gray
and his eyes as crystalline clear
as quarts clinging to sapphires
suffused through a pool of brilliance
bottled from the sky itself

He didn’t return that compliment.
though compliments, he reminded me,
can get you everywhere (it depends
where you’re going, I added)
but he didn’t realize where
I was trying to take us. Instead
he bought me a candle. A candle
in whose light those eyes
might look as well-worn as mine
embroidered with dark spots and
dilated like the end of a needle
yearning for yarn, green-brown
and inconsistent, asymmetric
a slipped stitch never found

Though if only this face
this place
were more than a mirror
but something substantial
the sheen on his skin
now supple and soft
the hair on his head
like woven threads
instead of strings
slipped from their roots
fallen like loot
from a burglar too quick
to flee and hold onto
those few small things
he had already inherited

Instead those sewn lips
yearn to part, to whisper
What’s this? Is that a pimple
a blemish? What will I say
if they point
if they stare
I should just turn away.


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