Susan Milchman



how your hands work  /  against the grain /  of my skin

            pulling out the stitches  /  roots attached & quivering

like so many fingers  /  crawling from a smoky river


somewhere  /  i am small  /  lying in perfected stillness

            on top of the picnic table  /  in my childhood backyard

i am pretending to be dead  /  i leach the day through patient eyelids

            & fever in the sun  /  i can smell the boy next door   

draped over the fence  /  yesterday’s rain now a layer of ash  /  in his shirt

            & moist earth  /  trapped  /  beneath his fingernails

i can feel his eyes  /  birthing a song  /  over my body

            a sea breaks  /  its lines unseen

a story swells  /  like a castle of shadows  /  & stretches over my bones

            my skin furrows  /  into valleys of violets  /  & folds into

a slow burn


how your hands winter  /  on the west side  /  of my body

            how sometimes  /  they are full of weeping

how sometimes  /  they sing to restitch me:

            Let me show you a new way to remember this.


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