Skin’s Dark Night Amy Pence

One Shallow in the Body

As Stein tells it, our memory of the loved one occludes
the whole. And so, I loved the back of E.’s neck
for its innocence, for what remains young in a man
though age should carry things away from him.
Like the pale, sleek boy who appeared in our courtyard—
moist with light, while my sister and I
slid naked in and out
of an old bathtub.
He becomes sweet now, years away,
when I touch him—his eyelashes so white
they are frost.

But whom do I really miss, among such resemblances?
Like stills of large animals pacing
I can only preserve the gesture, not the source.
Can only recall the drowsy providence of touch,
the tender leaves of abandonment:
how each petal curls away from the center,
a loosening—like hair from a braid.

There was a time when I was so good
I saw the one eye, the one curvature,
one shallow in the body.
Just a fragment of touch
gave me false promise—
that we could reside forever, there,
in the breadth of our offerings.


February 2003 2River