The shapes of a small woman’s bones
twist on an empty isolated floor
and I wonder if she still inhabits them –
if the girl that flesh was made for
still yearns for the pleasure of
making love to sunlight and rain,
for the unexpected bliss of
hearing her own heart beat
in the silences of stolen breaths.
The stepping-stones of her ribs
wear the ghost light of seclusion
more than they wear
the vital membrane of her flesh;
I want to paint with my fingers
the parts of her that have lost their color:
her stepping-stone ribs, the lone hip,
the single ear defined only
by the shadow it casts in the light.
I want to paint them
in the messy radiance
of warmth and invitation.
I want to give her one bright flower
to wear in the valley of her shoulders.
I want to give her a poem
and a candle to read it by.