To the attuned ear,
the saddest sound is formed
when wooden lips, that cannot be pursed
further than the gouge has them frozen at, collide
across the string divide; wooden heads held back,
legs unable to lean forward, hands open,
always searching for a clasp that cannot be.
Stromboli laughed at me,
a foolish puppet
mimicking the grandest acts
of life when I held the puppet girl close
and tried to press my lips to hers. He wept
at wood that cannot illustrate passion
except as a caricature.
Mangiafuoco was more kind;
set me free
with coins and a sad shake of his head
when he heard the tale
of two puppets kissing. He asked me
if the touch of my wooden lips to hers sufficed.
I told him I could not forget the sound
as our lips thumped together
to the tune
of earth hitting a coffin lid.
When my wood turned to skin
I sought her out again; discovered
she had been devoured by the fire.
There was nothing left
but my memory of that time in the corner
of the tent, her arms akimbo,
legs askew, her strings
tangled, and she never said a word
as I pressed close.
I recall the texture
of her wooded chest to mine
and in my ears I hear
the sound of death, like that released
in a wooden club as it connects
to the small head of a fur seal pup.