After Touching You, I Think of Narcissus Drowning

How desire is a thing I might die for. Longing a well,
a long dark throat. Enter any body

of water and you give yourself up
to be swallowed. Even the stones

know that. I have writhed
against you as if against the black

bottom of a deep pool. I have emerged
from your grip breathless

and slicked. How easily
I could forget you

as separate, so essential
you feel to me now. You

beneath me like my own
blue shadow. You silent as the moon

drifts like a petal
across your skin, my mouth

to your lip—you a spring
I return to, unquenchable, and drink.

The Rules

There will be no stars—the poem has had enough of them. I think we can agree
we no longer believe there is anyone in any poem who is just now realizing

they are dead, so let’s stop talking about it. The skies of this poem
are teeming with winged things, and not a single innominate bird.

You’re welcome. Here, no monarchs, no moths, no cicadas doing whatever
they do in the trees. If this poem is in summer, punctuating the blue—forgive me,

I forgot, there is no blue in this poem—you’ll find the occasional
pelecinid wasp, proposals vaporized and exorbitant, angels looking

as they should. If winter, unsentimental sleet. This poem does not take place
at dawn or dusk or noon or the witching hour or the crescendoing moment

of our own remarkable birth, it is 2:53 in this poem, a Tuesday, and everyone in it is still
at work. This poem has no children; it is trying

to be taken seriously. This poem has no shards, no kittens, no myths or fairy tales,
no pomegranates or rainbows, no ex-boyfriends or manifest lovers, no mothers—God,

no mothers—no God, about which the poem must admit
it’s relieved, there is no heart in this poem, no bodily secretions, no body

referred to as the body, no one
dies or is dead in this poem, everyone in this poem is alive and pretty

okay with it. This poem will not use the word beautiful for it resists
calling a thing what it is. So what

if I’d like to tell you how I walked last night, glad, truly glad, for the first time
in a year, to be breathing, in the cold dark, to see them. The stars, I mean. Oh hell, before

something stops me—I nearly wept on the sidewalk at the sight of them all.

Related Poems

Narcissus

Near the path through the woods I’ve seen it:
a trail of white candles.

I could find it again, I could follow
its light deep into shadows.

Didn’t I stand there once?
Didn’t I choose to go back

down the cleared path, the familiar?
Narcissus, you said. Wasn’t this

the flower whose sudden enchantments
led Persephone down into Hades?

You remember the way she was changed
when she came every spring, having seen

the withering branches, the chasms,
and how she had to return there

helplessly, having eaten
the seed of desire. What was it

I saw you were offering me
without meaning to, there in the sunlight,

while the flowers beckoned and shone
in their flickering season?

A Walk Round the Park

We did not say much to each other but
we grinned,
            because this love was so good you sucked the
rib bones

and I licked my fingers like a cat.
Now I’m
            omniscient. I’m going to skip past
the hard

parts that go on for a very long time. Here’s the
future:
            I laugh, because the pleasure was earned
yet vouchsafed,

and I made room for what was dead past and what
yet didn’t
            exist. I was not always kind, but I
was clear.

Polycystic Study of Intimacy

But where do the breasts go first is my question.
I understand their fantasies of fleeing south. 

The winters are loud and long and white 
and by March, well. I wonder why I’m still 

in it too. Now the round pits thumb up 
beneath the skin, tender and hot to the touch, 

crushed by my new weight. This island I’ve 
had to make of myself brought a bevy, 

angered by easy pleasures: sugar, soy sauce, 
potatoes, ice cream. My love’s language 

is to make a meal, ask what I can take in, 
ask what maladies to avoid. As for my house:

touch is far and few between. Desire wanes 
between compresses of cloves cinnamon turmeric 

and honey.  But in the mornings, a gulf between us, 
my hands are kissed. The blinds drawn to keep

the sun from disturbing my sleep while we wait 
patiently for my body’s quiet prayer of thanks.