Maybe you saw me in the Picasso Museum,
how I stood for an hour in front of Gored Horse
thinking about Plaza de Toros in Pamplona

praying to the toro lidiado, how banderillas
dripped a rosary of blood down its obsidian pelt.
Yes, the grandstand was full. No, women

did not beg for the bull's ears when it finally stumbled.
The beast leaned against corrugated iron
catching its breath to the chagrin of spectators.

The torero was ushered off stage, tail tucked
between his legs. Birds glittering above, their little razor
blade wings cut sheet music on cerulean dusk.

Nothing about it was torturous, indeterminate;
it was chaines turns and feather steps until the goring.
Nobody won. When their bodies came together,

it only made sense: head upswept,
costumed body twirled on a horizontal axis,
horn the choreographer of blooding. It could be

I confuse sex with what is worthy of worship,
but in that museum I ran my tongue
along the deckle fringe of the bull's severed tail,

my body a banderilla thrust in reverence.
I was worshipping the arena in which we injure,
watch worn partners bleed before us.

From Reaper’s Milonga (YesYes Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Lucian Mattison. Used with the permission of the author.