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How long since you last gazed into a face
this beautiful, since a face this beautiful
opened its gaze for you? A full moon couldn't
loom any larger, rising late and low
in hazy autumn, couldn't fill any
lake or pool more full than your eye is full,
holy water rising in the holy well.

You can't follow a third of what he's saying,
his lips moving slow, then fast, then slow, tilting
his face from seduction into friendliness
and back again, the words flying fast, birds
surprised from hedges, the lashes raising
and lowering their heavy wings, the hair
a dense cloud stroking and unravelling

over the hill's brow, the shirt washed to a
pale soft heft. Behind him in the pub, two
pipers, one's lean head shaved down to a shadow,
self-absorbed, arrogantly serious;
one curly-haired, wind-blown, gregarious
and gap-toothed. This one's different, looks at you,
at you only, your search-light. Is there danger?

There's always danger. The pipers pack their
sticks and bags, the guitarists click shut the doors
of their cases, the fiddlers raise their bows
precisely together, the lights go up
without your seeing. So this is what they once
called glamour: leave him so much as a ribbon,
your world can age without you. Water rising in the well.

Nathalie Anderson

Penstroke Press

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