Cleopatra bathed in the wrong milk. She
misunderstood what the country wives said,
and they were reluctant to disagree.
Elsewhere, on warm clear nights with a full moon,
young women pull back the curtains to sleep,
naked, in the light I pour over them.
This is the bathing. This is the white milk
that softens, smoothes, and clears their skin. And I,
I treasure those nights, those faint beautiful
reflecting moons on earth, nestled like stones
amid the green darkness of summer leaves,
opening closed windows, uncovering roofs.
As I mute and transmute the sun’s glory,
so they do with mine, carrying it on.
I swear, the milkiness of their skin is
just a hint of the sweet carried within.