The crease below the palm

is red from your wax sheet:

the shape of a dragon, turned

down to me—

you press the picture to a thin space

over my wrist veins, it sticks, reluctant,

the white back of it showing between

your knuckles and the small hairs.

This is the way of stains: slight erosion

of the topcoat then the opaque intent.

You use your palm’s hollow

to curve and bow the lines.

Here is the tender rush, color sinking

a little winged body, its fire drawn

over and into the lifeline’s valley, as if

to warm this hand, your old place—

Sweet marrow of snapped branches

gathers in the underslots of your shoes

as you walk, clutched,

fastening this dragon to me.

We are walking through your back wood

in heavy weather. The ink will set, and the sun.

The rain like most things does not stop after dark,

it will lie in crosshatches over these red stones.