1 2 3 4 5 6
Her skin, thin as rice paper,
tears easily. She shows me
where the nurse forgot to peel
the tape that held the IV in place.
At home, when she lifted it off,
the seven layers of skin adhered.
She bled for hours. She didn't know
who to call. It seemed the muscle showed.
Now this scab, dark as dried beef.
I tear lettuce into bite-sized squares.
She shows me her wrist,
the blue-black dislocation she worries
is a fracture. It's the drugs, she says,
there's nothing I can do, my bones
are brittle. Breadsticks,
I think, moving from counter to stove,
from wedges of tomatoes to the thick red
sauce I stir. I salt the boiling water,
drop in tangles of pale green linguini,
toss salad with my fingers, burn
my tongue on the spoon.
After we eat
we play scrabble. While she thinks, I drift
from the small round table, the two women,
the bright light. Once, I nursed at her breast.
When you were a baby, she tells me shyly,
you'd sit on my lap for hours while I read
and never whimper or cry. Sometimes,
I forgot I held you. I spell
"doubt" and "do" and count the value,
seventeen, eighteen. Let's eat dessert,
she cries, remembering the candy tucked
in the white paper sack. I bring out the two
truffles, egg-shaped, one pink, one green,
and cut them in half. We share them fairly,
strawberry and creme de menthe. At parting,
I hold her close, she holds me. What passes
between us? I'm thirty years old. Christ
has risen. There are no limits to desire.
This poem appeared in Bakunin
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