her tongue emerges like a rosebud.
she tells him of the emperor heliogabalus, who drowned his guests in rose petals. he imagines the fragrant sea, the expired breaths, as he kisses her navel, along the scar. not there, she mumbles, anywhere but there.
her book shelf in london is populated by books of victorian nudes, women draped in burnt orange and leopard skins, basking by white flowers, luxurious. she surrounds herself with myths. saturn devours his children. she presses the scar again.
but they always gutter the light out, afraid to look at one another, afraid to make the sensations anything more than sensations, skin on skin on skin, not naked, never naked in that proper way lovers are. the spaces between them are small but infinite.
he remembers sybil naked, her swollen belly and crescent birthmark, every inch of the geometry of her body. he wonders if she imagines matthew, a golden shining perseus as she curls her fingers in his hair and cries more, more.
“we’re old now.” she says, pouring him out a drink. “the world is passing us by.”
he looks across the ruined landscape of the city, thinks of his daughter and son and their freckles in the way the leaves speckle with autumn gold. he shuts his eyes and sees them at her breast, and she is warm and living and draped in roses.
she is your blood and so she is you, and she is all i have left of you, he speaks to himself. she smiles but does not answer, but he can always hear her voice— her voice which lies in the singe of an extinguished candle, every rattled breath of his children’s colds— warm, husky.
the sobs accompany her release, as they always do. he gropes for her hand, but she refuses it, severing all that they had been just before. he strikes a cigarette and watches the smoke unfurl in all its electric blue calligraphy in the pale dark.
“edward.” she hiccups, calling towards his ghost. in her mind the slashed red and gutteral scream of the birthing room, the tangled smell of death. she still feels the phantom cord: his collar, his shackles, her death rope. it curls around her always, never-ending, draining blood. hollowed out, an empty space where there should have been brilliant, exquisite Him. her body had devoured him. selfish, angry womanhood.
he kisses her again and tastes salt. orpheus turned back and turned his wife into salt, he thinks. they langour in the underworld of her manicured flat with its dirty tumbler glasses and mirrorless walls.
they share a cigarette, one small act of intimacy, of comradeship. in the darkness they form each other’s bodies into irregular shapes— endymion comes to her, sleeping eternal. eurydice emerges to him, out of the smoking salt and into his arms.