The boy with the painted hands has been asking
for you, said you told him you would come.

When the cormorants disappear, he sets the table
for two: a glass, a plate, a napkin.

His neighbor, the boat builder, crafts his ships out
of steel and lead. He has never seen the sea.

The wind in our veins and the blood in our sails,
he says, we have it all backwards.

The boy will never understand how the world requires martyrs,
will never know the color of unstruck matches.

Each night, he places a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine
upon the table, but the bread is stale and the wine is sour.

I do not have the heart to tell him.