To hear the poet read “A Painting of Pan,” click here or on the title.
I wasn’t afraid of the painting of Pan
mounting the nymph from behind, seizing her.
I wasn’t afraid of crossing the room
to study it, under the burning chandelier.
But when I saw the god’s animal eyes–
glittering, heedless, intent–
and how the girl looked back at him
with a half-curious, half-panicky stare
I remembered how you looked at me
across the reeling party that night
and how, later, when I touched your arm
something flickered on your face–
open and feral, frank. A hunted look.
A kind of tenderness toward the hunter.
A perception of everything sordid
that was going to happen between us.
Look at me, I said later in bed,
and you looked up with my wet food
smeared across your parted lips
and I saw it flickering again–
that creature trapped in your eyes,
that tenderness toward the predator
I’d become, one who feeds off others,
that look of haunted recognition.