A door creaks open, a serpent-breeze
coils itself around her ankles.
She has crossed her feet, curled her toes.
The mattress has two depressions
where her heels have dug in.
The paint on the walls is peeling off,
like the skin on the inside of her thighs.
The room stops breathing, braces
itself in the darkness.
In the moonlight, she can see his
amorous eyes. Outside the window, a raven’s
croaking frosts the air. He lies
down beside her.
She hears the discordant notes
of his polyphonic wheeze, the murmur
of his scarred heart. His calloused hands know
their way around, stop at soft spots,
and follow the undulating terrain.
He is a withering rose emitting
a rheumatic fragrance. He had kept
his cardiac condition a secret.
His arrhythmic ardour reeks
of betrayal. Her body turns
to stone as his every pore lights up.
Her struggle is his aphrodisiac. Ecstasy could be his—
ruination; hers, too. To love him
is to lose him. To add fuel to his fire
is to turn him to ashes. His doctor’s warning
is analogous to Kinadama’s curse. To mate
is to die. Now or soon.
She wants but is afraid to want him.
His urge leaves her without choice;
she gives herself over, commits
a crime against herself. Lust is hard
to stop, love, harder. Her body becomes
a seismic zone.
Through her sweat and his wetness,
she holds her breath and waits.
In that conjoined eternal nanosecond,
when fear and hope play tag,
when bliss could be a coital nightmare,
the world opens and closes. In that blink
he inhales, his heart pounds on her
bosom, and in the throes of the invasion
as relief washes over her,
she cries a little, flies a little, dies a little.