{I want you he whispered I want you.}

I want you he whispered I want you. And a heron stretched down from its tree —puppet wings and wind, pinioned feathers caressing the lakeskin— plucked a fish and swallowed it. Not that, he thought. And the owl his bitter beloved foe came that night all eyes and silence and in the morning three mice had somehow said yes and gain no, not that he thought. And the moon and his one pale plant began to discuss desire with their pie faces pressed together and the stars rained down as what hey were as ancient tears of saddest light and in the morning the cereus was again dry the face crumpled into whelm and wilt and also not, he thought, that.

And so it went and daily he whispered daily he tried to find this ghost this ghost hanged so long ago and for crimes that made him weep for there were no crimes beyond his birth that might have cost this much and once just once he saw the dolls in his small circus house once he saw the hanged ghost untie himself from the chimney, float down the stairs turn his body soft and curl it as some new nautilus made of light around the woman as she slept and as she slept this spiral of light burned and burned nearly out and even her hard human bones softened into it and yes he thought as his own stars died into darkness yes please, he thought, yes that.

Leslie Harrison has recent poems forthcoming or out in journals including The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, FIELD, Antioch Review, Orion, and elsewhere. Her first book, Displacement, came out in 2009 from Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She teaches creative writing, poetry and literature at Towson University and divides her time between Baltimore and the Berkshires.