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A solitary cricket makes the sound

of an old man sucking meat scraps between his teeth.

He speculates; he doesn't try too hard.

Where in this room is he concealed?

In bed I listen through the dark.

He's old to keep such teeth. Sinews

creak in his green transparent arms;

I hear his slippered feet.


I lie in musk my lover left

on damp sheets. This senior

has watched it all,

gnawing down a scrap of beef.

Patiently he sits and sucks his teeth;

he doesn't try to tell me anything.

I know he waits and thinks.


Five thousand years drift on;

he crouches to the ground,

working scraps, and patiently shifts

his narrow slippered feet.

Nightly lovers waste their seed

while he watches, half asleep;

alone at dawn besieged by dreams

I hear him clean his teeth again

in the same noncommittal key.

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