Asleep on your belly, or, alternately,
on your side, on me; the first night -
the first full night - with the promise of coffee
in the morning and not only allusions to it.
Your full weight on my thigh,
which I’d never tolerate in any night past,
but kept awake by the two scant hours
of partial sleep I had and admiration
of your neckline, the province of your back,
golden boughs embroidered under
part umber, part gold itself, cast on the pillow
your left hand
and its short fingers partially unearthed, nested
in a hillock of brown coverlet and blue curlicues,
opening and closing.
Hushed, I sip a drink and read a poem
as you murmur in sleep “yes”
to whatever invitation the one in dreams extends.
The one in dreams; he may be me. Gold from a summer
that has not happened yet, surer with a barbecue,
ready to paint a white thigh emerging from a sheet,
a better rendering than mine
of the one spot you missed shaving.
He may be the husband of Scheherazade, prodding
one more story, one more night at a time.
You’ve a cobra in a willow basket.
It’s not a murmur. It isn’t “yes”.
It’s a gourd flute the land of dream gave you,
and I am not
the servant of the realm, or gold at all,
or worth my silk curtains. One thousand or
one thousand one; I can’t change,
I won’t know, nor ask, but
the snake isn’t transfixed.
It’s only waiting.
One day, I’ll appear in print.
The small merchant in Barataria
with whom Sancho Panza speaks.
You’ll describe those sheets
or some such other linens I have for sale -
an intimate detail of my home, returning the favor
of having appeared here. It will win a prize
you never knew you were competing for and
a dozen men in memory will whistle down “yes”.