The pearl is merciless and fast-acting when dropped into the goblet of my exilarch.
It could as lief be aphrodisiac as poison. Once was my prophecy fair
when my object was dark. But he was born with a rare form
of profil perdu that lately obscures my success.
His countenance alters if at all
as a tortoise crosses shifting sands for as far as eye can see—
will this creature never stumble, underbelly sunward,
would darkness offer afterimages if images left nothing
to be desired?
Motionless all afternoon
beneath the silver chandelier
at my end of the dining hall, I feel it—
motionlessness—
like Cleopatra in her dotage atop the wrong barge
until sunset, the harbor clearing of feluccas
whose unmooring moves her so, mind bobbing
softly in its slip. And I want to go hunting and fishing.
Other mouths fade in and out.
It’s as though I were doing the voices, reading aloud
from some suppressed text or other,
hidebound and bordered with whiplash curves.
My highness doesn’t turn around. He is so heirless,
silhouetted against an almond-shaped glory of light. I have the scars to prove it.
Tonight the dosage of jewel pills increases.
Wine, music! I have scars to prove.