You wanted to know what was in my heart.

You were there. I guess that was the first thing.

And the Emperor commanded: Make me something beautiful,
so they did. Then the Emperor said:
I’m bored with that. Make me something more beautiful.
They did this, too.

The Emperor was easily bored. After a while,
there came a new demand: Make me something ugly.
Compliant as always, they obeyed.

The Emperor stared at the ugliness, then he shouted:
No, this is no good. Make me something beautiful again.
But, this time, they could not obey:
they’d lost the art.

You were there. When you weren’t with me,
sometimes I’d take a letter of yours,
and run my finger over the dry ink of your signature,
thinking of the moment the ink was still wet.

There’s something else, though.
Something sublime and yet trivial.

It’s a gorgeous entropy, like the head of a sunflower
in moonlight. It’s the way you move
when you lift back a stray strand of hair from your face —
slowly, with the inevitability of a moonrise.

It’s the chopped honey of my memories of sex with you.
It’s the way snow settles. It’s the whole length of the river,
from the spring to the delta.
It’s echoes of milk and bullrushes.

There’s this ripple moving outwards from the centre of a pool,
the moment of disturbance when the pebble flipped in.
The ripples widen in concentric circles.
This is not a real pool, it’s an imaginary one:
it goes on for a long, long way.
Eventually, the ripple dies before it reaches
the edge of the pool.
The edge of the pool is always still.
The volume of water is, for the sake of argument,
infinite, and can absorb all the effects of all disturbances:
in this pool, all ripples eventually run out of momentum,
growing more and more shallow, and more and more slow,
until the motive energy is exhausted,
and the ripple melts into stasis,
so the surface of the water
is utterly calm, as it was at the start.
Then the water simply and perfectly
contains the sky, coolly and impartially
as a pure reflection – only the pool
is not the sky.

You were in my heart.