At this height the patchwork of fields look more
like a quilt than vineyards and mulberry groves.

The Verdon River flowing through the middle
adds motion to the illusion of flight.

According to the birdwatchers guide on the nightstand,
the Mandarin duck is the most ornate and beautiful
of all birds. It has a prominent crest on its head,
golden hackles and a pair of bright yellow feathers
on each inner wing. It feeds on seeds and nuts.

Watching you sleep, I consider how many times
in the last eight minutes the words Mandarin Duck have
been uttered across the globe. If I knew this, I’d multiply
it by the number of gondolas in Venice at noon on a
Sunday and then again by the different positions into which
you can bend a wooden artist’s mannequin;
and as I travel from the sparseness of this bedroom
over fields and rivers to the curved plateau of your
lower back, I cannot help but stumble through the
math to this formula for how I love you.

First published in Artlife, Vol.25 #4, Issue #269