Before sun arrives at horizon line
we climb to the attic where no one can see.
Elderly oak boards tremble beneath our bare feet.
We check the windows for water damage.
I set up stools where light will soon be
while you coax the radiator toward warmth.
Tossed hair and sleepy eyes, our bodies still
warm from beneath the sheets.
In a haze of early cigarette smoke
streams of sun begin to peer through
the curtains to watch. I sharpen charcoal
with your grandfather’s knife.
Your body looks pale as it slips
from the faded white of your nightgown
falling limp, draped
behind the stool.
The whole room gathers round
your body, the depressions
of your collarbones, and feathered
scars on your chest.
Your fingertips rest consciously
on your breast. I tuck
a bundle of sackcloth
into your hand where lilies will be.
Hold that delicate gaze longing far beyond
the cracks in the wall. I’ll mark the welling tears,
the healing tears, the story –
you shiver. It is cold. I have seen all I need to.
Rising, you lick your thumb and rub charcoal dust
from my forehead. I drop my gown
down next to yours and
we trade places.