“I am the one who keeps playing
while the weather encroaches…”
~ Stephen Dunn, “Cleaning Up”
Dear arctic visitor, aloof and seemingly
uncongenial, I know your hot little secret:
you love the musk of summer that lingers
in the roots of my hair, metallic fragrance
of sparks slumbering in the cauldron of the belly:
how audible were the noises it made, despite
its best intentions at abstinence and fasting?
So I confess— I ate those teeth of rubies
spilled out on the plate more for their flicker
and hidden fire than for the weight of flesh
they could press on my tongue… And when you
take me into your subterranean bed festooned
with tinsel and fluorescent lighting, piled high
and quilted with skins and downy coverlets, still
I’m seized by such a terrible longing. I can’t answer
when you rant and rave: Isn’t this enough? What more?
Sweeping a boar-bristle brush from temple and crown
through my frost-thin hair, I miss the wind and warm
salt-spray, the way light mothers a patch of loam.
In response to small stone (177).