When the panther came no belfrey rang alarums, no cleric spat his tea. When the panther came the sky and lawn were still. The panter came through forest, through field, up to the wall and my one blossoming cherry tree. I had constructed the world as it was and had pared the body from the customs of languor. It pressed its nose against the pane and its gears ground me away into ribbons of dissonance. It turned and sauntered into the shadows. Its paw marks on the earth like cherries too ripe in a white bowl.
Peace, after Long Madness
After a long madness peace is an assassin in the heart. Where there had been the clenched fist, the strung out sinew, the hamstrung grin, the erect eye and hand on every shadow like a spy, now the river springs from the crystal of its sleep in a sapphire lunge to the sea. A year of madness is a libation poured out of nettles and boiled herbs, of knives oiled with honey that cut silently to the spine. I was madness's kin, no, more its parent blood, its coursing lymph, its skeleton. I kept company with lunacy, broke bread with him, lay beside him, my head in his arms, felt him draw down the sheet to watch me as I shook and so it was one year till now. Now the rocks become a sweetness in the listless meadow, the lutist brays to the ashes, flowers in the red crystal bowl push against the windowpane and I sleep again, my hands beneath my cheek, legs straight out, eyes shut against the inward stratagem of dream and the bedsheets and counterpane lie upon me no more leaded capes of knobbed steel, but companions of my skin, like the surface of my river is kindred balm to the volcanoes and riven headlands that lie beneath it like pain.