Yours is a face accustomed to
tension.  I know you do not
glance in the mirror
at these moments, but
I can tell you what I see.  Have you
ever watched a cat?  Then
you would have had a cat
watch you--eyes alternately
full moons and crescent slits,
the marble of the iris glides
in expansive circles,
taking you in with wariness,
protected wonder.

You have a cat's attention,
but the grace of a hound--
you laugh, I know, but this too
is a compliment.
Entranced by gravity,
you hide your strength behind
this weary clumsiness,
haunches drooping from
constant tension.  Your dog-
tired face greets me tonight, baring
no teeth, and sighs without
breath.  This night promises
sleep, but no release.

Come, let me show you your true face.
Like all mystic rituals,
it requires the dark, the quiet, and
a mirror.  (But since we are human,
we will need the semi-dark, the
semi-quiet.)  Pushed back onto the
pillows, your eyes grow sharp
as you guess the meaning of my gestures:
sucking, biting, licking,
I draw away these old, animal skins
with my teeth and my lips.
Perhaps it is with a sadistic pleasure
that I watch your face release its toy--
hard ball of tension, balanced
behind your tongue and dented
with teeth marks--now,
you are vulnerable, your
man's eyes are looking into mine,
your man's body tossing beneath me.
The cat and the hound have left you behind.

Were I any more the witch,
I could end this ritual
with a sacrifice.

But I flatter
myself.  I am more tooth-
fairy than witch, I recognize this
gift spread out on the pillowcase.
I accept you, savor you, and
return with a quarter's worth of
kisses.  Love, look at me:
look at these eyes, their motions
and jerks hard to control.  Look at
my mouth, slack, silently gasping and
keening.  Look at my hands,
draped like shadows about
your cheeks.  You
are beautiful.  You are

31 March 1994
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Sylvia Chong (