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The Alexander Character
Gannon Daniels


A wife once a mistress lays her weight
on her entire left leg (ankles touching)
and her left hand and wrist (heavy), freeing
her right hand to touch and inspect the pieces.

In front of a fireplace of mastodonic size
she stares at the shape she might create
but she finds difficulty solving this one
the puzzle crafted in Italy; thick wood
hand-painted mosaic juxtaposed with
the tiles underneath gives her a headache
dizzies her into complaining again.

Her whining voice begins to sound
to him as just that, whereas
before it was a bird’s burnish
a heavenly sound that should be
manipulated into strength to sing
in every language the pomp of ethereal
art—arias across oceans, his diva.

“I’m bored,” she says.
“There’s nothing to do,” she reminds.
So people are invited, boats are launched
and another month goes by that they
do not separate.

When she finally leaves, she leaves
him in mirrored doors ajar
reflecting his image over and over
folding in on every wall, forcing him
to look and look again at the man
who had brought her here—

The he who thought she would secretly
swim at length in the pools meant for
Greek gods, the surrounding statues all
brought by boat to his dock on the shore
or she might hide away in the spires of his
great castle walls to read and often reflect.

But nothing ever turns out as planned
willed, forced, commanded, so
much folly it would be to fault her, but he will
never see clearly the truth of this undoing:
his hope against her demeanor—
the cavern of his desire—
what he wanted her to want;
what she never saw in him.

Gannon Daniels teaches English in the Los Angeles area. Her poetry has been seen in California Quarterly, Cimarron Review, RATTLE and others. The Occupying Water is her first book.