From The Nights Also
You’re standing by the mirror,
and I watch your fingers
slip cufflinks through buttonholes.
Your shoulders ease back,
as if the world finally had room for them,
as if your skin fit differently
under this shirt. Your small breasts
press out, unexpected
in these starched folds.
For you I would learn
the forgotten motions of my father’s hands,
the foreign ritual of folding a tie
in on itself, anything
for an excuse to reach behind your neck,
slide my fingers up under your shirt collar,
that sharp cool crease.
When women were clouds
Back before control top pantyhose,
before the notion of too much woman—
when women were clouds,
we were consulted about everything.
We decided when the ships would sail and if
they would arrive. Men blamed their wet dreams
on the fog. Everyone sketched out secret plans
for a flying machine. It was a good time,
all in all, when women were clouds.
The rain never tasted better. We got more
airtime on the radio and there were many
and better words for women
who put out.
The nights also
Not only the lake like this, not only the low sun cutting the mist, and those three smooth ripples each side of the silent bow
but the nights also
Not only the microphone, the acceptance letter, the applause, the wide place past the treeline where we finally understand why we’ve come all this way
Not only the life we claim on our tax returns, not only the breakroom gossip, the lost umbrellas, the small triumphs of public transit
Not only the dreams we fortress with sandbags of will
Not only the ways we touch each other in public
Not only what we hang on the wall, what we polish for the in-laws, what we sort, schedule, tabulate, catalogue, and account for
Not only what we understand