By way of illustration, a storm, a hairdo, a punishment,
or the face of my great-aunt in the failing memory
of the few who can snap her cool features into place.
Overheard usage: The old maid, hair cropped unfashionably short
in mannish trousers, how else to describe her but severe.
Like Joan of Arc suited to ride,
her chain mail shimmering, iridescent as a tarpon
lunging from an angler’s tackle, a hook dangling
by a wire.
Is it genetic?
The clean line of my jaw in the blue porch light.
What if I nick your finger, punish you like
a paper cut, or kiss you with desire’s accuracy,
I mean, the way a skater’s blade etching a figure eight
kisses the ice?
Have I taken you too far?
As if to be butch is to be made of mythical perimeters,
and not the sky revealing itself between storms
in sudden naked flashes.
I found my great aunt’s face in a grainy yearbook photo,
absent of restraint, a playful eyebrow raised, a smile so
genteel and at her ear, a blonde helix, stray curl almost
too exceptionally soft for sight.