In Saint Helena darkness falls into a window.
Napoleon tells the doctor to cut out his heart
& send it to the empress, Marie-Louise,
but not one word said about his penis.
Had an auctioneer or bibliophile known
the weight or the true cost of infamy?
After his body shipped home for burial
in a great hall of clocks & candelabra
few could reign over imperial silence.
One was Vignali, paid silver forks, knives,
& 100,000 francs to curate the funeral,
whose manservant, Ali, confessed the deed.
Now, we ask time to show us the keepsake,
to let us see the proof in blue morocco
& velvet locked in a glass case.
I wonder if the urologist in Englewood,
New Jersey, wrapped it in raw silk
& placed it as a talisman under his bed.
Or if it became a study for a master of clones
rehearsing doxology & transubstantiation,
not even a murmur covered by swanskin.
It’s a hint of the imagination awakened,
a shoelace, a dried-up fig or seahorse
awaiting the gallop of soundless waves.