Firebird in Captivity
These works of fire you dangle
above me are losing their ashy feathers.
The crinkling edges bend and wave
in the sighing light.
You shake your head like a towel,
giving me dryness and warmth
as I dance on cushions throughout
our empty rooms.
The table catches quick fire.
I think it’s the first that cradles the heat
as the chairs crackle around,
a gaggle of woodchips flapping away.
You wave your arm like trimmed wings
and feed the flames invisible seeds.
I swing my ax of hair
and laugh as it sizzles like meat.
The glass is stained with lipstick.
Yours or mine depends on the shade,
your peach fuzzy lips smudged sideways
or my apple-peel red ones sliced on the rim.
I smell it,
that whiff of salty perfume
staining a scarf you wore
or that necklace that screams for sunlight
in my bedroom closet.
I peer at photographs
stained in coffee-sepia
looking for the curve of a jaw like a bird’s wing,
the hint of hunger around the eyes,
the lack of an essence like a vitamin.
A need for swallowing,
a panic held in unsteady check.
The need to lick cutlery,
our fingers grasping tongue-stained plates.