When you read his work you could tell
that he enjoyed an evening game of chess
when the light was closer to warm pink and marigold.
You could see his eyes calmly pouring
onto thirty-two squares engraved on a cold stone slab
in the forested garden;
an old friend sitting across from him
lazily rolling a cigarette.
You could hear the thrushes, the warblers, the horizon
beginning to settle in.
They didn’t speak often, but their exchange
Sometimes they discussed things that had nothing
to do with anything
in such a way that your mind scrambled to find the somethings
they had to do with everything.
When you read his work, you saw his maroon retirement cardigan unbuttoned,
his warm salt-and-pepper hair snugly fit under a peaked cap.
And you smelled on him a memory you couldn’t place;
it kept you at a distance while inviting you right in.
As gentle fingers moved the pieces, his eyes wrote Victorian poetry,
and you could see the reflection of birds in them against the graceful September sky.
And after you rejoined his book’s last wing to its body,
you’d see the back of his head, radiating quiet, slowly
defining itself into a solid monument of time and space that you had created.
You’d listen for rare blue butterflies
in his nebulous eyes,
a whole figment of your imagination now solely his
in the rustling silence of your world.
Notes: Inspired by Patrick Süskind’s “A Battle” from Three Stories and A Reflection. The image is a photograph of the Morpho Menelaus.