Still life with split skin, ruby streaks,
jeweled nail bed in sharp relief.

Rewinding in slow motion.
Freezing her molten toes.
That slick pose.

That florid inkling
to expose her
secret white gauze
fastened beneath pink satin
pointe shoes.  Sodden bondage
of serpentine feet.


Unwinding the bandage.
Revealing the seamy striations.
Denuded flesh the hue of white chocolate mottled
with raspberry jam.  Suppurating
internodes like tiny mummies on display
after a sticky exhumed burial.

Polishing the stark artifacts.
Another gilded layer.  Another scarlet stain contained.
Still life with shiny glaze, artificed baubles;
red-spattered rags soon to be trashed.


Her audience is treated
to a carefully prepared spectacle,
lacquered and lavishly trussed
I have attended the gruesome peepshow,
post-performance.  The unreeling of ravaged appendages
that seep like an exotic disease, a forbidden dessert.
I fancy myself a special kind of voyeur.
I know where she sleeps
with imposter extremities.

I have stroked that nail bed, clasping
swollen arches.  Fingertips flitting on spasming pulse,
distended tendons.  Grasping her ruse as she contracts
out of my grip.  Sordid grappling
of strained underpinnings.  Flimsy fabric
cast away.  Sensationalistic penetralia
of shifty specimen.  Quivering.  Wavering.

Torn between
so many contorting desires.
To soothe her, sedate her, preserve her
toes like curios.  Maroon them.
Consume them.  Deconsecrate her
fakery with a betrayal.  With a taste
of metallic teeth.


The alluring point of her toes.
The lurid gleam of my blade.
Crusty binding ripped away.
the crackle-glazed facade
and its sickly sweet cloying reek,
luring me closer to the putridity underneath.
I want to dance on her feet.

I don't want to go inside.

Behind that door
with so many coats of paint
that it doesn't close right,
the only thing that moves
is the man with the spotted scalp,
and speckled arms.

I only ever catch him
reflected in the mirror.

Everything else--
the matching recliners,
salt-and-pepper shakers,
all the photographs--

They have no meaning left.
They aren't even pieces
of wood and plastic anymore.
They aren't reminders of her...
of us.

They fade around the space
where she was. They fade
like my name
and the way to get home.

After forty three years...
There's nothing to put my hands on.

No one...

Nothing to hold.
Nothing said when I turn
out the light and lie awake in the
stickintheeye : ameliapeel
Brian Collier
Juliet Cook