Shell / Texture / Stroking / Almost
For reference I create shade and shape
to discover which body is the frame
Breathless in the way her belly slumps at the hips.
In that old bicycle landscape a beach appears.
Give me your face, please.
I hover around it
and she around the edges lightly touching
The belly diagrams itself like a helipad the downward stroking triangle
She tells me a story and I
remember it as if it belongs to me
Attempting to dry myself on the astroturf porch. How to catch a crab and put it to sleep.
She slants down like the ceiling above the stairway, then vanishes triangular
How to be a soft touch.
Red nail polish spilled on the porch is no matter no matter, a card table stretching into a pier
What is behind the dulled back door.
Careful to look between the kicking legs of the crab
for the emergence of lullaby
What is behind the face I find familiar
Imagine the angle of a box lid closing over me as I lounge among the toys.
After several years my memory acquires grain
to incorporate the age of the photos
An even tan in black and white. Each tendril of her bathing suit top folds over like the ear of a retriever, like a harlequin’s costume, like I’m listening up against a collarbone.
If a body appears only once in a landscape.
A crease from hip to hip, another and another meeting between the legs
I refuse to put it away
What you say is impossible because the body is always in the landscape.
In the Bath House, Without Glasses
In the one wet room in our skin singular among the tiles
One bath is hot. One bath is cold. One line of water breathes down from the tiled ceiling.
Once upon a time I opened
my eyes inside your body.
Gently feeling around the grouted edges.
She put me in the bath with my cousins, where
the Yiddish for vagina is very similar to puppy.
I lie down on the wet table to be scrubbed
talked about in another language
We flopped around in the water with our washcloths and shampoo bottles.
She’s always a body in the room, careful and clean.
I can’t see anything but the surface of the water
just in front of me / and even then, it laps clear through the tiles
If I were allowed to be tattooed it would be mostly letters
like markers in the cemetery
This one I lost / This one / Usually one body in the room
at least belongs to me, but
In the other room, the men bury themselves in hot salt.
It was traditional to go to the mikvah
but those buildings are all churches now.
She’s laughing at me in another language / unable to breathe
in the steam I know my
skin is around here somewhere
Near the strange edges of my thighs
I’m just a frame stretched over the table for cleaning
She all has dark hair and wide hips, a blur of shape and shadow, slipping around from body to body.
Is this even my shampoo bottle?
Someone empties a bucket of cold milk over my face.