She begins with a guttural moan
deep in her throat, our Russian Blue,
and leans her chin close to the pile
like a clock hand around a spindle,
stepping and retching
always in the center of the Turkish rug,
until she spits out a blue-gray finger of fur
and walks away untroubled.
I envy her that Catholic act / how she doesn’t
notice from the damp stain
(a dun rosette, a dark red filigree)
the whole mandala of rug
snaking out in every direction,
circles within circles within borders,
each with their own gods and gardens.
How we are moving mandalas, too —
how even in some still places:
the bullring in Ronda
(the footsteps and the blood smoothed over now),
on the parquet floor of the Palladium
polished over, the boys and girls gone
to cries of pleasure and pain, to other births
and other deaths.
We clean because we are clean animals, yes,
but also because the marks of love and loss,
the damp stains of death and desire
the pentimenti of living, if they were left,
would be too bleak
and beautiful to bear.
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