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L’ange Anatomique, by Jacques-Fabien Gautier d'Agoty, 1746
Unfastened avidly from each ivory button
               of her spine, the voluntary muscles open
virtuosities of red: Cinnabar

                                    the mutagen, and carmine from cochineal
               born between fog and frost, so many little
deaths Buddhists refuse to wear

                                    robes soaked in its thousands. Sunsets
               of other centuries fade in galleries to ash.
Red is fugitive: As the voice, the blow

                                    of gravity along a nerve opening to an ache
               the body can’t unhouse: As the carnation
suffusing cheek and haunch like saucers

                                    from the king’s porcelain rinsed in candlelight.
               Gratuitous as the curl, the urn-shaped torso,
the pensive, brimming gaze of pretty

                                    post-coital thought she half-turns over one
               excavated shoulder. As if to see herself
in a mirror’s savage theater as elegy

                                    to the attempt to fill an exhausted form,
               to learn again the old ordeals of wound
and hand and eye. To find the source of burning.