A thin dark string of garnets bought
to mark me, somehow, new,
then only later thought,
homage, shadow, cord,
read how those who’d lost
loved ones to the guillotine
marked themselves, too, at parties,
cut hair, pale shifts, red ribbons cross their throats.
Sly winking, like condensation, around those who live
through ruins, who rise
in the binds of another’s sorrow,
dark, frail, unaskably forward.

When I went to see him after,
a friend who knew me in the prior days,
we talked of you, of concessions and
the narrowed choices that come with time.
Then, his offer shy, polite
and many years too late,
first he grasped and held me long.
I thought, What is this you’re holding?
Pressing our weariness together? Admitting
what we’ve both been through that

this wasn’t first a kiss but a gathering of bruises?
Later, emboldened for each other,
and letting the tide hit again
and again replenishing,
he grabbed me by the throat,
rough against cut stones,
and pressed. I felt beneath him
malleable chords, my blazon throat,
and gratitude.
I thought, How rare exposed, how brave
to tempt this place in us alive.

In the morning we laughed, talked of
his students uncomprehending
why a mystic would want un-doing.
And, when again he pulled me closer
(Or perhaps he’d pulled me closer first, laughing later)
I agreed to what I never, parched and reckless,
with the ease of your death between us bare and open,
I wondered, Maybe this is the way back up.