THE POETRY OF BLOOD
By Charles Allen Gramlich
The poet dips his quill in a tiny puddle of iron-black ink and brushes a delicate calligraphy across the pale swath of his manuscript, each stroke delivered as precisely as that of a surgeon with a scalpel. His lips move as he reads his own words.
“I dream in midnight claret, my mouth torn with sorrow.”
The manuscript does not speak, can not around the satin gag that binds her mouth. But now she allows herself to breathe, allows her chest to rise and fall beneath the wealth of fine dark lines that etch her arms and legs, her belly and one of her breasts. And her eyes are expressive, wet with a holy shine that the poet kisses lightly away.
“Not much more,” the poet says kindly. “A few haikus worth, perhaps.”
He soothes the manuscript’s damp brow with a sandpaper-dry palm, then leans back in his chair beside the bed where his canvas lies in chains and picks up the smallest and sharpest of his knives. The manuscript shudders, but the poet only trims his quill to a fresh sharpness and returns the blade to its defined space on his bedside worktable. Once again he dips quill to ink; once again he writes and reads.
“I dream in white and ebon, dressed as a harlequin in shards of poetry. And my tongue is that of wolves.”
He has chosen the manuscript’s remaining breast for these words, and as if from the dark inscriptions themselves an electric scent arises. It is composed of adrenaline and pheromones and clings to the delicate textures beneath. The poet leans forward before it can dissipate to draw it into his lungs through his nostrils. His mouth lingers close to the source of the scent; his tongue caresses the nipple to draw a last bead of musk into his mouth. He swallows.
The taste is sweet. But not yet sweet enough.
Now, only the manuscript’s face remains barren, only the forehead and cheeks, and the sharply pointed little chin. The poet addresses his quill to these empty landscapes next.
“I dream in heat,” he whispers. “Of bell-loud nights where I tattoo love in her flesh with the wet needle of my tongue.”
Again the scent arises from the manuscript, an odor of arousal and fear, tinged with a patina of copper sweat. The poet lays his quill aside; he removes the satin gag that stills the voice he now craves to hear.
Her whimpers draw him to her mouth. Her chains rattle as he releases the cuffs that bind her at ankles and wrists. With hunger, she strips away his robe; she entwines him with her limbs. The ink of his poems smears between them as it erases beneath a different kind of rhythm, a renga of movement that ends with a syllable of sighs.
Later, as they lie in ink and sex stained sheets, she recalls for him the bargain they had made. Her trust, for his. He nods and she removes her chains and places them upon his limbs. She bathes him with her tongue, dries him with her hair. She silences his mouth with satin so he can still taste the wetness of her mouth with his.
Now she becomes the poet and he the manuscript. But she composes without ink or sharpened quill. Her marks are inscribed with teeth and nails, written in the red of blood.