At Formicola (draft 4)

He hasn’t touched her all week. Not a palm
on the small of her back when they pushed
through an alley crowded with street vendors, or
a freckled arm pulling her body closer in the dark.

There was a time when he would touch her
without thinking. He’d beat a rhythm on her knuckles
when their fingers laced together, tap her nose
when she slept late in the mornings, zip her jacket
before they both walked out the door.

They drove up to the top of this mountain so he could take pictures
of stars. While he’s doing that, she’s leaning
into the cold metal of their rented Italian car, searching
for the boastful queen’s husband in the sky. She can always find
the crooked W of Cassiopeia. It’s the king– the leaning house,
a sideways pentagon whose name she never can remember–
who eludes her though he’s close, somewhere near his wife, she’s sure.

A bright curve of moon swings its low arc across the skyline and they’re still
on the top of this mountain. He’s taking pictures of stars. She’s leaning
up against the car, her search for the nameless king surrendered or– perhaps–
forgotten. Now she stares at the open splinter of the moon.

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