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He spent the afternoon at a tea-table, reading--
first the palm, softly uncurled in his own
like timid petals revealing themselves
to late August’s honeyed air
(oh and how the lines fell like bark’s scars
across her hand, like
lightning’s strike against a burnt-indigo sky)
then the face,
which was a more complex affair:
the soft palate, quivering,
and falling eyelids of the owl,
moonset over the arched lip and chin.
In the depths of the jungle, he knew,
there were insects that bore
faces upon their backs. Thus,
he took care to ensure that she too was not
an assemblage of jungle-dust--
that she would not fall apart
into iridescent shards.
Indeed, he held her hand as if it were
the thinnest glass, and hesitated to brush aside
her unraveling platinum curls.
Curiosity-- that poor, confused maiden
sometimes walking naked in the daylight--
he kept locked under the surface of his fingertips.
And instead fell to reading the tilt of her head,
the love line streaked across her hand, the
pale and desperate cobalt of her eyes.
By nightfall, he had wandered through her naivete
and explored the alcove of her throat, the unrelenting
foliage of her hair, her masked cheeks.
He found himself a scholar to her eyelashes,
delicate and crystalline
and distinctly insectile, the only reminder
that she would shatter to his touch.