A light blue summer dress, skimpy enough
To make a man labor to walk on, while he staggers inside
And assimilates a blow to the stomach.
She's coming to see me? Not possible.
Overcome with tenderness, I clasp her hand
"Love you," I say, without thinking, as I might
To my daughter. She blushes faintly.
"I love you too," she says, only a little awkwardly.
I turn quickly away. "I'll see you on the fifteenth,"
I say. Brisk. Matter of fact.
"All those years I tried to get women
To take their clothes off, and to touch them,"
I said. "And it turns out all I had to do
Was charge them money for it."
"That's an unworthy thought," said Martha, primly.
For thirty-five years
I trained harder than any athlete, any yogi
To find the sex in every thought, every relation,
Every image: sorting, clutching, scanning:
A famished raptor drifting over its shadow
On the yellow grass.
How is it that in the moment of laying on hands
It all goes away?
But it's always been that way.
At the moment of touch, everything shifts.
Reconfigures. The kaleidoscope jumbles;
The patterns reform. Reality surfaces,
Like the vast gleaming back
Of a whale; what we thought was empty water
Was warm, breathing, thinking flesh.
Desire dwindles to a triviality
And tenderness is all there is:
The raw heart beats, unmoving;
The blood stands still; and my body
Revolves around it like the Sun.