Author: Cynthia Belmont

The call of death is a call of love.
—Hermann Hesse

The Grim Reaper waits at the bar,
ice cubes cracking in his glass,
scythe curving across the counter
like a fake nail he might tap if he
was ever bored. See his thin
floppy sleeves? His shoulders are

more hunched than in the pictures.
Neither god nor lord, harvesting
nothing he can keep, he’s a tagalong,
a pulled shade. When he shifts
in his seat, a soft wind stirring silently
under his cloak, when he turns

so you can look into his hood,
think of the lone walk he’s taken
between setting suns, the millennia
of locked doors and reluctant hugs.
When he pulls the shiny red heart
from your pocket, remember: he’s in love.

Leofric’s snore plunders the dark.
She rises from the bed, white
nightdress twisted between her legs,
walks toward the image of the eye—
blue flame lingering in the night air.
She knows it’s just a dream,

the bareback ride she takes
every night, yet somewhere
in the valley a man struck blind
by the sight of her knows the future.
She remembers little, the heat
of her thick yellow braid in sunlight,
the horse’s hair scratching her thighs,

a blur of closed shutters.
The eye. And now, touching her
loosening skin, she does not
understand whatever this body
was meant to teach. Holding her
breasts’ soft weight in her palms,
she does not feel wise.

What is the secret of the eye?
What did it see through the hole
in the sill as she rode that white horse
through Coventry? Peeping Tom,
called Prophet, what visions
gallop through his nights?