Contract between Forward and Reply

would you be a lender
if it coincided with war

could you be sure your tenderness
came from more than envy

should you have amended
those rules that bound you


would you have descended
from behind that leaden war

could you foresee

how slender my heart
should you then doubt

my fear of deep intention
would you be more

than the commended old wrong
would you be still

my song of snow in sight

would you be

                the provision in the sky

would you know more

                than a law a weight
                a mended wall that wood

                            that night?


Copyright © 2017 by Mia You. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This is a section from a text I wrote for The Multinational Book of Contracts, an anthology I’m coediting with the Dutch writer Maarten van der Graaff. My own interest in contracts arises from my recent readings in revolutionary feminist texts and wanting to interrogate how intimacy and desire are bureaucratized.”
—Mia You