he thinks I'm sleeping but I'm not

by Natasha King

I watch him sleep
in the creepiest way possible:
imagining opening him up,
            studying the filigree gear-work of his insides.
the tick and tock and love of his heart.
nerves like fire, long swirls of veins and arteries,
            though first
            the sullen yellow of fat laid gentle
beneath the skin, peeled gentle away,
set aside, gentle, by me,
            uncovering the spareness of
bones and sinew.

I watch him sleep
thread my fingers through hair
            like the soft disheveled
feathers of birds. wonder,
            what are you dreaming about? and if i
            set my eye to your eye,
                        peer down the long
                        tunnel of the optic nerve,
            will i see your sleeping thoughts,
            moving in dream time as
            slow fish.
            if i set my breath
                        just above the curve of your
            upper lip, whisper along the
            nostril, through which the priests of old Egypt
            reached the brain,
                        can i change these fish, coax them
                        to new shape, turn them
            all to images of me? can i
                        lead you in your dreams
                        to worship at my altar?

I watch him sleep
breathe things I think but will never say
imagine opening myself up
            studying the fish and filigree of my insides
                        (every gill and scale whispers be well
                        every cog and gear creaks for thou)
            hearing adoration at his altar, my priests' papyrus devotions,
            the tick and tock and love and love and love of my heart.

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