She breathes in, and when she exhales several seconds later, out comes a mist of stars that wraps around her like a second skin. The road that carries her, it’s a river and an arrow and a song that bubbles and hisses in the bellies of the animals as they raise their paws to the moon in celebration of the one they call mother. Such moments. Such beauty so many will never see. When she closes her eyes and feels each beat of her heart rattle through her ribs, the animals follow in awe as do I. I am an ugly man. A mess of broken dreams and bitter failure, and yet in her shadow, I escape this cage and dance as if my madness were not a curse but a gift to be cherished. On the leaves that scatter around me, I taste her and I taste God, and in this madness, I can’t see where one ends and the other begins. In the shadows as the animals speak among themselves concerning the nature of her secret smile, my fingers draw strange symbols in the dirt. So many obsessions. So many fantasies she stirs within. The town grows dark and all sounds are dim, and yet her light casts its glow like a star. So many stars. So many pieces of dust she transforms into vessels capable of so many great things. A handful of leaves is a universe and a strand of hair from a baby fox a supernova in my mind that sparks a thousand poems and the memory of a thousand kisses that have never been. A small stone is a strange globe in a faraway galaxy and a twig becomes time’s arrow that snaps between my fingers whenever she glances my way. When I’m on all fours, and the animals take me under their wing, together we follow as she makes her way to a place no one else knows. A clearing in the woods. An area sheltered by tall trees where she removes her clothes before lying on her back looking at the sky. When she touches herself and bites her lips, the animals and I watch as if gazing into the eyes of God, and even when the coming rain soaks us to the bone, we stay silent and rooted to the spot.