On the Voynich manuscript I keep by my pillow at night

I can’t tell tablet from text any more:
Blarney Stone, Rosetta. Something we speak
and something we kiss. Something, maybe,
which lets us know love, or at least the language
for it, because if we can summon the words
for love and hope, perhaps too we can summon
the feelings themselves, like incantations
for what we’ve lost. There are still stones

that men have read for centuries and yet which have betrayed
nothing. So many have tried. Like lovers tracing
the beloved’s teeth with their tongues, or
hipbone seams with their thumbs, they’ve touched
their bodies to the slab with pride. With lust. But each of us
is always losing. Our tongues grow dry and clumsy, inevitably
as the ocean tides. Predictable. Once in a while
we believe a key to all that mystery
is tucked into the reading, any reading.

Like the text of the stars, astrology still instructing
our daily tasks when we’ve begun to forget
the throne of Cassiopeia, the daughter she threw to the sea.
We relay no positions. Instead of myths
we map their novel insides now, the tiniest bits
of intimacy, force explosions of what we know
into something new. Atomic Esperanto. Plutonic Pictish.

All this is to say I used to believe your freckles
were like constellations, and if I had the patience
I could trace out the plots of your stories,
circumnavigate your world. We’d name new
lands together, find the monsters in your seas
and turn them into legend. One day, your rune
tattoo would be revealed, and you would rise
a hero or a beast. But now I think of ink

and hidden calligraphy, something like a romance
language for which I know the cognates
but not the grammar. The script was written
on you so long ago it’s faded into the stream,
worn smooth as water-washed granite. Sometimes
time subsumes the meaning just so. I have
the points of intersection to steer by, the guidelines,
the root words and the muted screams.

Brandy McKenzie has published poems and prose in more than forty different journals, won various awards, been nominated for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize, and worked on the editorial boards of various nationally distributed literary magazines. She most recently published work in The Packingtown Review, and had a personal essay and a copywriting piece highlighted as featured writing on Writing.io. She works as a paralegal and an online education consultant, and teaches critical thinking and writing to community college students.