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Dana Pattillo

for Cameron Jones

Under wrought iron and sooty glass
in the Victorian shrine
of the Botanical Gardens,
a little twilight tableau
beguiles the eye of Rousseau's
great-great granddaughter.
Nostalgia like sudden hunger
gnaws at the pit of her stomach.
Her mouth waters.
Blue spikes of dragon thorn,
rare cuttings from the thicket
around Sleeping Beauty's castle,
make a curling lattice
on which rain-forest epiphytes
loop and hang green tendrils.
She puts out her hand, tests a point,
and draws a red bead
from the meat of her thumb.
Flushed blossoms drink
the volatiles of her sweat
from the saturated air.
Sample her pheromones
like truffles. She shakes out
the square of fresh skin
folded and tucked under one arm
like a flag, a left-over from
the Homesick Cannibals Reunion Picnic.
Drapes it over thorn and flower.
Foliage pokes through the rips.
Charming, she decides. Like
needlepoint on a farmhouse wall.
Home Sweet Home. She sights
along her arm, takes the measure
of her canvas, by the rule
of the swollen bead on her thumb.
In the heat, the colors
in her paint box ooze out oil.
She dips her brush and begins,
Je ne sais quoi, a picture
not by numbers.

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