The Fresco Worker Appears Suddenly In The Picture
When he rubs his hands for blood flow it snows.
If I were a leper, if I were a snake… Shavings skim

the fresco’s surface as strips separate, peel, palm
creases deepened. …would I cease to hold these hands

together, would I slough, erase my face… Slick slate
bodies of fish spread wing-fins, swim and leap

across the wall to form an ellipse : they mirror
the fresco worker’s face as his thumb goads metal,

scales polished in circles. Skin becomes scale. Lime
and granite kneaded to the consistency of dough

transform him. I am a leper—no, a snake that sloughs
itself to reveal that supple layer. If he were a leper,

like a leper, would the swirls and lines deepen,
separate, cease to hold carpals to wrist to radius?

If he were the snake, like a snake, at least the lines
would stretch, hold, redden into pink scars. Either

way he sheds skin, rubs olive oil over fingertips,
the metal tool, the wall; his eyes grow as distant

as the eyes of the fish. He breathes, skin passes
over gills, leaves yellow wings slippery, reflection

born as he swims, slick-skinned, I am land-scape,
shadow on marble, shadow on grit, I am fish.
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