Self-Portrait

In this red-walled room, among rare hibiscus

     Tense, flushed, the floor strains,

          A pulse-muscle,

 

Chambered, flowing, this my old sulking-place,

     Celled, slowed, cruor—

          And I, the princeling

 

Of this city singing, lithe and lithesome

     Dancer. Drawn up from the pin,

          Raveled, a radiant

 

Scarlet thread, fine in thin light. A daughter.

     Tonight, to be damasked, this bed

          Of cardamom,

 

Bitter hyssop, myrrhy as poem’s shadow. He

     Takes my nose in hand, knifing,

          Presses it closed,

 

Cut. Keeping from me my scent. Now they break,

     All the lines, shard-cinnabar, the face,

          Mercurial mask

 

Spreading. And upon a silver platter I will be

     Served my own severed head.

          I will sway behind

 

Its beauty, veining, as the seventh veil is falling before me.