Moonday Poetry Reading, January 8, 2007

NAKED CHEF

I love a naked chef, you say,
jabbing on earrings as I stir
oatmeal. I toss my bathrobe
over a chair beside your lunch —
sandwich, slice of cantaloupe,
peach. You’re right. I’m sleek
without clothes. I don’t get
dressed when you leave, but wash
dishes, thinking of the cheap alarm
clock I bought yesterday in an aisle
with bird cages and plastic bags
bulging with orange and red fish.
As a child I loved to squeeze
those bags, fingers pinching
the world’s trapped softness;
now I wash plums by filling up
a plastic bag, wiggling them around.
“Pick as many as you want,” a bride’s
mother urged as she tied yellow and pink
balloons to bushes behind a bed
and breakfast restaurant. A breeze
made them bounce and click
like eggs in boiling water.

 

YOUR SKIN

A woman who gave you
a massage a year ago
said you have the softest
skin she’s ever rubbed.
You did it by yourself
for a long time, straining
to reach the part between
the shoulder blades, but only
able to cover the skin
and not rub it in. So that’s
where you asked me to start
the first time your back hurt
but when I rubbed your lotions
between your shoulder blades,
that’s where your skin
seemed softest of all,
as if the skin there
were the tap root
of the flesh and
all the warmth of
the lotions trickled
to this crevice in
a riverbed and flowered.
You have the prettiest
eyes after you come,
you say, and I only wish
they were always soft.

 

BIG BAND, SLOW DANCE

“Were you close?” I’m asked, as if grief
Would sting less deeply were we friends
As well as son and father. Further apart
Two men could never meet, though blood bends

Through arteries, veins and capillaries
Summoned into Presence by his pleasure.
Oh that I could have grown more slowly —
Remember being small, and cradled like treasure.