The shift in light is subtle—
from afternoon to late afternoon.
Outside the window a single oak
bends over lake    bowing as if
asking his reflection
to dance with him
until trunk rots
and bark slips
piece by piece
into her arms.
Inside two women sit
on a lush sofa—one lies
arm raised over her head
the other sits by her legs
holding a froth of peony blossoms
preparing laurel    lei     sash
with thin quick fingers.
With each movement the velvet
they wear rustles and shifts
like waves
like the murmur of birds
like the light outside
all that stands between oak
and his lover in the lake.
Inside and out each swath of lilies—
in garden bed and vase
porcelain with scarlet centers—
hangs suspended in air
like a shock of stars
whose light grows
with the darkening day.