Spreads by exceeding itself.
Spreads by letting the world waver, bend,
and fold into its dark borders.
On a map it would be a poorly-known nation
seething with imperial ambition.
Or it’s something one found on the leaves of a book,
where it has blotted out the crucial word,
the puzzle-piece that reveals the murderer’s
identity, the name of the girl that sent
the love letter, the ultimate fate of the star-
(or double-)crossed lovers. Or else on my skin,
like a tattoo I asked to have put there, or
the birthmark that cancelled my childhood.
What land grew the plant whose powder composed
this ink? What ships carried it in what bottles?
I have seen it half-flashed, subliminally sensed
against a blank field of sky
through whose invisible perforations
the starlight would soon come flooding.
I think I have seen it coiled and concealed
like a viper deep in my lover’s glance,
or spread on the crust of my heart or lung
in the spectral eye of the x-ray.
It is, perhaps, my signature,
or that of the one who designed me. Or merely
an insect, squashed between the ponderous pages
of the definitive work on something or other
by some impertinent reader.