by Cia Mangat

Inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade

Begin with the lilac frolics in the hem
and the pity-silver stranded in her silk
night-dress; her thick black hair, coarse
between her fingers, running
jungle-like, then serene; her eyes little ponds;
his pot-bellied fingers; her lips drying
out from spinning yarns with her
tongue over and over – she’ll sit here
ere long – the rhythmic way her eyelashes
roll unto themselves as each tale reaches its
crescendo; her chillingly heavy perfume; mouth
with a waterlily at the back, a handful of strings
trembling so lightly, so gently when she sings! For him
the heart slowly fills with warm, briny water and the sand
she brings, golden, crystalline in her hands; thick
lashed eyes that wetly perfume his throughout the
night. At dawn, his fingertips wander home from
palaces of language. He plays the glory of
her jewelled fidgets. As he watches her,
he underlines each sentence with a cat’s paw.