I saw him, after the accident
at Hotel Eden. I waved, and he turned,
half-nodded, and red, unsmiling
staggered in, dragging a suitcase of apples.
‘We’re pretty different people,’ he said
and stepped into the lobby,
clawed feet spread on the Persian rug,
heels tight and freakish with burns.
When I found him again at dinner, his mouth
was coals and ember. Taken a fall, he’d said,
straight off the back of cloud nine. Raw stumps
on his shoulders where wings once were: feathered,
turning like gulls in the ghastly Atlantic.
‘Did it hurt?’ I asked, imagining the plunge–
a booming wall of saltwater, shimmering, ice-daggers
wedged in the bones. Imagine a map of the world
and then falling through it; him, wild and tumbling
straight through the seabed into her arms.
Lilith, below the smart letters of Reception, red-haired,
smiled just like his mother. She drew him close
to his swinish chest, her knuckled touch bruising
his rib. Fingerprints, footprints on the staircase
of bone they couldn’t bury. The rattled shiver of breath.
She traced its location, his weird heart: soft, red, human.