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Third Secret (A Sestina)
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Third Secret (A Sestina)

My eyes stung with the sight of her. Light played
on the lace of her dress, stroking the breast
that I knew like my own. I could not breathe
when she cried and promised she would not think
of this as goodbye. The sun on her skin
was too much. She leaned up for a last kiss

and I was lost. It was like our first kiss
in the dead of night. The scent of her played
tricks on my mind. Told myself skin was skin,
it didn’t matter. Hers arched hip to breast
to my mouth, pale as whalebone. You don’t think
you should think, moments like these. You don’t breathe

and you’re dizzy from forgetting to breathe.
Coming up, looking for air from her kiss
her face was bone white in moonlight. I think
every vein could be seen. Her muscles played,
pallid and bloodless and strange in her breast.
It was like she was the night. In her skin

played the drama of stars, using my skin
as the moon. Mouth close to my ear to breathe
she’d never leave, she was home on my breast,
hair spread like a sheet. By morning a kiss
of gold representing the day was played
in each strand. I hadn’t slept. Had to think

what this meant. Problem was, I couldn’t think
straight. Months passed, time crawling over my skin
like an infection. My mind, ashamed, played
havoc. So it began. I couldn’t breathe
in her arms, even in private. Her kiss
was a suffocation, dressing my breast

in chains, a straightjacket pressing her breast
too close to my own. Thinking what they’d think
back at home. She didn’t care. Thought each kiss
a weapon, lined her soldiers on my skin
in the gentle art of war. We would breathe
our last fighting. After, our shadows played

on the walls. Played the heartbeat in my breast.
After, I’d breathe the scent of night and think
of moonlight on soft skin, gold hair, sharp kiss.

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Edgar Allan Poe

Annabel Lee

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