Rick Mullin

Still Life with Rose in a Crystal Vase

Once again love drives me on, that loosener of limbs,
bittersweet creature against which nothing can be done. ~Sappho

Feeling all the butterfly years, the seven
rays of windowed solitude in Manhattan
settle on your shoulders about the kitchen,
wouldn’t you call me?

Surely I’m the confidant you’d remember.
One whose shattered letters and hidden poems
light the detailed minutes of furtive meetings.
Haven’t I told you

how your West Side garret by day disguises
earthly flesh in shadows that hold no value
set against the elegant moon that waxes
into the morning?

How I see you lingering at the table,
face and hands composed in a Goya etching?
How my heart inclines in a thorny tangle,
bleeding in doorways?

No. This heart shall never unwind its rose of
fifteen years, its labyrinth of devotion,
hands that fold and lips that maintain their rigor,
always this yearning.

Nor could I dismantle the love that anchors
worlds within the chrysalis of my armor,
thunder in the beautiful code of silence
cut from the garden.

Seeing how a dream will unfold like petals,
might we say our time is a mist that rises?
Might the truth arrive in a masque of madness
carrying flowers?

Rick Mullin’s latest volume of poetry, Sonnets from the Voyage of the Beagle, was published last year by Dos Madres Press, Loveland, OH. His work has appeared in various journals, including The New Criterion, Measure, Ep;phany, and American Arts Quarterly. His poems have also appeared in anthologies, including Irresistible Sonnets (Headmistress Press, 2014) and the forthcoming Rabbit Ears: The First Anthology of Poetry About TV (New York Quarterly Books).