Cleopatra Recovered

Matthew Jude Luzitano


Her marble skull has split from crown to nape,
her divine face divided from itself,

beside her underserving neighbors—
a hall of the fossilized salivary glands

of cockroaches and the carapaces of armadillos
with samples of their calcified scat—

she rests under glass, my girl, dismissed
to the stone-mute room at the back of the museum

of natural history—natural because history
is always cracking a nose off. Hers lay

beside the rest of her famous face, wearing
two-thousand drowned years at the base of the sea.

Alone with one another, I feel we are sharing
an intimate conversation. I'd ask her to coffee,

but her morning has passed. She is only
a tense now, though it is the loveliest. She must

have smiled once, but her aspect has been struck
dead into coins, her eyes hacked into blank marble,

pupils excluded, hair an estimation, flesh ashen,
expression paralyzed, carrying in it the solemnity

of a tomb. Now, there's only this silent room,
this table to hold her fractured head.

She is the true woman footnoted.
When did she learn to separate

from her body, torso and limbs forming
an archipelago of her figure? Draw closer.

What have time's dark fingers
taught you about detachment?