nightscape with roses

I will grow into something with slit eyes,
a cat, perhaps, or a snake.

I have a serpentine cunning
and nine feline lives.

I watch the moon and wait, lurk behind
potted plants and curtains, bide my time.

My mother tells me curiosity will kill me.
I am almost tempted to ask her why.

The trees are on edge with the abeyance
of wind. This is when I am most myself.

I imagine death is a tunnel
through which no wind blows,

or a man, tall, dark, handsome,
his eyes yellow with jaundice.

He likes to count down the lives for me,
a rose for each. Every time a rose goes out

I smile. Besides, I like the smell of rotting.
It jolts me out of this skin, this life.

Raw, bloodless, I am like a cutlet of
some meat. Veins run through me, pink and hollow.

No wind blows. Nine times I am passed through fire.
After I’m purer than God, I puke in the toilet.

Death holds my hair. Smiles, though it
doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

My mother greets me in dreams. I’ve been
looking for you, she says. Where’ve you been?

I don’t know, I lie. She smells my breath
but says nothing, only smiles a sad, soft smile.

I wake up, brush my teeth, sort through the mail.
In the mirror my eyes are keyholes, double slits.

I have grown into something on the edge
of terror. After I’ve been clarified like butter

I sit and watch the trees. The trees like veins.
No sound when the wind blows through.

Death gives me a rose.
I grew it, he says. From a corpse.

Here.
Just for you.

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