The Magic Carpet
Because I am the greatest in his realm
your husband sent for me, left me alone with you in the inner palace
where, on pain of death, no man may tread.
My commission was to render your face
in silks and thread of gold, the most delicate of textiles.
Of course the inevitable happened (for the rumours
of your beauty weren’t greatly exaggerated) and I set out to make your portrait
unfinishable. Every night I heard the women and eunuchs murmur
in the corridors: “Hush, hush, the master is working!”
when every night my work was withering,
stitch by ripped stitch, in my own hands. How long can I explain the delay,
my doings and undoings, this penelopian dithering?
Your face shimmers on the floor beneath me.
I cannot insert the final threads of vermilion, jade and blue
for fear that we have lift off before I can even step aside
and it carries me away from you.