Anthony and Cleopatra

The galleys, arms
crossed over the serpent
and the turquoise eye stained
with saffron dust.
The silky waters
contemplate with silver eyes
the embroidery furrowed along the sails
of the Roman trireme,
with a voluptuousness sweetly
scratching the holes of the flute.
Light splinters when touched
by the prow and the seagull
trembles receiving the unexpected
thrust, that like a finger tickles
the solar breast feathers
interchanging the colors of a bonfire.
The tiara slips at the level of the water
and there it mesmerizes the subdivided smile of sardines.
(Each sardine a nibble at the tiara)
(Each tiara on the volcanoes of the moon
makes a monkey in purple taffeta dance)
Tunics are billowed by the wind
when the bosom accordion keeps time.
The serpent slithers in search of a date, not a nipple,
the ringed index finger guided the bite.
The sorcerer showed the back of his leg,
he wanted to take part in the banquet
and not to read the clouds dissolving their letters.
The messenger startled by eunuchs
murmurs beside the silk galley.
At stern he is covered by an awning 
of algae, Horus’s nakedness
resembles death.
The ores splinter over the heads of crocodiles,
make way for the leaps
of the purple-clad monkey.
The galley halts, a crash of cymbals
in the onslaught of each wave.
The serpent leaps on the musicians’ awning.
We say silk galleys
and we shut our eyes.
A millenary reminiscence
moves the serpent again, there
the nipple is reconstructed.
Regard the wood-louse walking the lettuce. 

Used with the permission of the University of California Press, from Selections: José Lezama Lima, edited by Ernesto Livon-Grosman, 2005; permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.