In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Sister, I am in ten pieces ten miles
apart: a cricket sleeps in one fist;
my penis snuggles with slugs under
the mandrake screen; my knees repeat one
struggling word along the sandbar;
tree-moss braids my crawling hair;
and this tongue — a succulent, fallen leaf.
If you step into a trap of clean ribs
and one breaks loose, take it for a wand
and dowse until you find the cloudy spring
that gives back my true face.
Crush pokeberries in your palms,
since they yield the color you love your days
most in; come rub my cheeks and lips
with your moist earth sign. Love my days
since I recreate yours in kind: I love
how your sense brings you out into the rain
to shimmer with the grass, the trees and long hills.
Tomorrow I will show you a lizard’s skeleton
washed clean, and a mushroom as impure a blue
as heaven: its milk is indigo, bruising
slowly green; it will nourish us, both sky and sea.
That wild patch of wolf hair at the root
of your waving spine, that platypus
in your crotch, part waterbird, part bright fur
— what are these animals you stand for?
You came to me first walking invisible
beneath a green dress, your hair crouching
behind your head. Playing for you I held my flute
like a blowgun. And this spill of hair sleeping
on my chest, I wonder what pelt it may be —
while you sleep I whisper its fables. Awake,
you turn on me: what is this breath of fire?
Robert Hill Long