what I really mean. He paints my name across the floral bed sheet and ties the bottom corners to my ankles. Then he paints another for himself. We walk into town and play the shadow game, saying Oh! I’m sorry for stepping on your shadow! and Please be careful! My shadow is caught in the wheels of your shopping cart. It's all very polite. Our shadows get dirty just like anyone’s, so we take them to the Laundromat—the one with the 1996 Olympics themed pinball machine— and watch our shadows warm against each other. We bring the shadow game home and (this is my favorite part) when we stretch our shadows across the bed, we get so tangled my husband grips his own wrist, certain it’s my wrist, and kisses it.
Copyright © 2018 by Paige Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you’ve been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I’ve been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You’ve kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.
Poem II from “Twenty-One Love Poems,” from The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974–1977 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1978 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.