from Rules of the Senses

I (a reading)

And you may
call me, for the rest of your life
call me, read the service,
say the words, my
heart's not in it:

go on until your throat
aches. And at night
when off your shoulder falls
your shirt, that first
flash of brown
skin against white

call me again, your words
softer but the same:

I will not answer, I will mumble
every charm I know, my voice
rising wildly, my eyes
darting, darting south, sure you must,
afraid you will not come--

you may call for me, put your hand
on my shoulder, make me
warm when I have only been cold, press
the book into my palm, your lips
on mine

but I will not come. And when
your voice arrives smooth as water over
my body, when I shudder and say yes, still I will never
be yours, though the night continue,
though from my mouth you hear

the promise, though you make
the verse a furnace, and make me
the wine.


The 2River View, 4.2 (Winter 2000)