By day, your hands have been kind,
washing the peaches before I eat
because you know I love the skin.
I remember times you touched the skin
of my open hand so tenderly
I could barely feel it. Though you sometimes forget
your strength, squeezing my shoulder too hard
in affection, twisting my fingers in your own
too tightly, by day, your hands have been safe.

But at night, your hands feel ready to steal
my sex, driver’s license, pictures of old lovers
stuffed behind credit cards, evidence of my life.
“The art of seduction is luring someone to bed
who doesn’t want to be lured,” you say, but
when your hands begin to move inside me
I feel you trying to pry me apart

like a shell, to find whatever pearl
is here and claim it, to understand
the mysteries that keep a thin blade of air
between our backs each night. So when
you lay your heavy body over mine
in a night so dark I’m scared to sleep
alone, your fingers crawl inside
like spiders, and I feel them

feeding off me, as when I first learned
things I couldn’t see made their living
off my flesh, then went outside, forgetting
my shoes, and felt the worms imbed
their hooks in my feet, and I knew,
no matter what medicine I took, I’d never
get them out — they found their way
into my skin, they never let go.