In my defense, my forgotten breasts. In my defense, the hair
no one brushed from my face. In my defense, my hips.
Months earlier, I remember thinking that sex was a ship retreating
on the horizon. I could do nothing but shove my feet in the sand.
I missed all the things loneliness taught me: eyes that follow you
crossing a room, hands that find their home on you. To be noticed, even.
In my defense, his hands. In my defense, his arms. In my defense,
how when we just sat listening to each other breathe, he said, This is enough.
My body was a house I had closed for the winter. It shouldn’t have been
that difficult, empty as it was. Still, I stared hard as I snapped off the lights.
My body was a specter that haunted me, appearing when I stripped
in the bathroom, when I crawled into empty beds, when it rained.
My body was abandoned construction, restoration scaffolding
that became permanent. My body’s unfinished became its finished.
So in my defense, when he touched me, the lights of my body came on.
In my defense, the windows were thrown open. In my defense, spring.
Copyright © 2013 by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. “Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right” originally appeared in The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013). Used with permission of the author.
Because you like to sleep with curtains drawn,
at dawn I rose and pulled the velvet tight.
You stirred, then set your hand back on my hip,
the bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging
wave on wave, until as though a lighthouse
beam had crossed the room: the vase between
the windows suddenly ablaze, a spirit,
seized, inside its amethyst blue gaze.
What’s that? you said. A slip of light, untamed,
had turned the vase into a crystal ball,
whose blue eye looked back at us, amazed, two
sleepers startled in each other’s arms,
while day lapped at night’s extinguished edge,
adrift between the past and future tense,
a blue moon for an instant caught in its chipped
sapphire—love enduring, give or take.
Copyright © 2016 by Cynthia Zarin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.