In the damp cell in Valldemossa,
Chopin sits at the piano,
a smear of blood across his lips.
George Sand, in trousers, stands beside him,
cold cigar clinched in her teeth.
The pomegranate trees shiver in the wind.
The ceaseless rain drums the windowpane.
He is improvising as he composes,
jotting down each chord, crossing out,
jotting down again, seeking the one key
that will transform it. She is transported.
He coughs, dabs his speckled handkerchief,
blows on his hands, and starts again,
small hands splayed across the keys.
Each night she writes, cursing the foul Majorcans.
Each night he coughs himself to sleep.
But in the afternoon, in the weak light,
candles wept to stubs, each note
lingers in the air, as if drawn out
from the soundboard, as if drawn in,
like one sweet breath,