Tanaquil LeClercq, 1947 photograph by Irving Penn

smiling through my own memories of painful excitement your wide eyes


and narrow like a lost forest of childhood stolen from gypsies

two eyes that are the sunset of

two knees

two wrists

two minds

and the extended philosophical column, when they conducted the dialogues

in distant Athens, rests on your two ribbon-wrapped hearts, white

credibly agile


scimitars of a city-state


where in the innocence of my watching had those ribbons become entangled

dragging me upward into lilac-colored ozone where I gasped

and you continued to smile as you dropped the bloody scarf of my life

from way up there, my neck hurt


you were always changing into something else

and always will be

always plumage, perfection's broken heart, wings


and wide eyes in which everything you do

repeats yourself simultaneously and simply

as a window "gives" on something


it seems sometimes as if you were only breathing

and everything happened around you


because when you disappeared in the wings nothing was there

but the motion of some extraordinary happening I hadn't understood

the superb arc of a question, of a decision about death


because you are beautiful you are hunted

and with the courage of a vase

you refuse to become a deer or a tree

and the world holds its breath

to see if you are there, and safe


are you?