by Jane Lovell

Inspired by Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil

I wash each curve, each crease.
Salt dries in strange scrawled symbols,
veins of gypsum.
With oil of palm and juniper,
I erase them, anoint your skin
with essence of valerian.
You speak of peace and other worlds.
Across the city, promises lie shifting.

There is kicking of dust, jeering.
I am led from the hill.
The air quivers.
Black-breasted larks rise from stone,
a flycatcher unravels its trailing song.
How do these birds tilt bright upon the wing,
insects dazzle, when such shadows break
the sun’s path?

Bees unwind from banks of thyme.
Scents of mint and calamus tint the air a green
more delicate than dew.
There is no mistaking you.
Draw closer, let me smell the sweet acanthus
in your hair.