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Published: Sun Jul 1 2007
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
The Last of the Ptolemies

I chose it for lechery:
that slink of grasping motion
across a marble floor,

almost boneless,
a line without sex.
Its eyes winked at my painted nails

rubbing across its head,
over oilcloth skin
dry as figs in the sun.

Such a smooth stalk
rising begs to be touched.
And its name, seductive

to tooth and tongue:

There was, of course, its silence.
I like its way with secrets,
that smile always lipped tight.

Slick obelisk, pursuing every thigh
exposed, ringing any downy arm,
committed to no one.

But most of all I chose it for its bite:
the tart sting quickly overtaken
by a coursing bliss

spreading through the scalp, the knees,
like an opiate.
Not a violent venom, no spasm–

a considerate juice
injected as you shiver
when it coils around your neck;

and then you succumb
to sleep, as though
waking to arousal.

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