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He had forced flowers—thin,

crenulated bells—tied on the naked stunted

trees of his closed court—enticements—

and when withered, replaced.

Taken to his side as he moved from bed

to chair to table on the porcelain floors,

a perch, unused but ready, its crossed

bars laid with seeds and jewels.

He sat arranged in his dragon dress, and his books

came. The slaves and quiet children

in white robes dragged them to his feet

on old carpets and lifted page over page

while he waited all day unspeaking

the evening custom of the valuable bird that,

plainest gray and held only by air

above the falling crown of sunset,

sang to light the heart’s dark lantern.

from Inside Spiders

Copyright © Persea Books 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Leslie Shinn Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.