They left me alone with the pens
And I have gone over my loved one’s face
In ink, for something to do.
I wanted to see how she looked
Telling me not to. I let my hand
Trail on her cheek like a hook.
Wasn’t I her pet, her little marmoset?
I traced a well-worn path
Back and forth between her eyes
In search of crumbs.
I ran the gauntlet of her tantrums.

When she drew ahead of me
I scribbled for my life. Jagged lines
Shot this way and that like looks
Blurring her skin. I gave her
Horn-rimmed spectacles, blacking them in
Where her eyes accused me of
Doodling. I broke a nib
Crossing out her kindness to the dog.
I wasn’t satisfied
Till I had joined up her eyes and mouth
In a rough-hewn triangle, a monkey-face.

I watched a beard of these
Corrections slowly darkening her jaw.
I watched a pen
Snag the corner of her mouth, spattering
Ink on my cuff. I must have
Panicked. I went through
The paper and the paper beneath
In my efforts to make good.
When they asked me what I was drawing in my book
I said all humans looked like that
By the time I had scribbled my gaze on them.

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