1. Such pleasure one needs to make for oneself. She has snipped the paltry forsythia to force the bloom, has cut each stem on the slant and sprinkled brown sugar in a vase, so the wintered reeds will take their water. It hurts her to do this but she does it. When are we most ourselves, and when the least? Last night, the man in the recessed doorway, homeless or searching for something, or sought— all he needed was one hand and quiet. The city around him was one small room. He leaned into the dark portal, gray shade in a door, a shadow of himself. His eyes were closed. His rhythm became him. So we have shut our eyes, as dead or as other, and held the thought of another whose pleasure is need, face over a face ... 2. It hurts her to use her hands, to hold a cup or bud or touch a thing. The doctors have turned her burning hands in their hands. The tests have shown a problem, but no cause, a neuropathology of mere touch. We have all made love in the dark, small room of such need, without shame, to our comfort, our compulsion. I know I have. She has. We have held or helped each other, sometimes watching from the doorway of a warm house where candletips of new growth light the walls, the city in likeness beyond, our hands on the swollen damp branch or bud or cup. Sometimes we are most ourselves when we are least, or hurt, or lost, face over a face—. You have, too. It's your secret, your delight. You smell the wild scent all day on your hand.
From Changeable Thunder by David Baker. Copyright © 2001 by David Baker. Appears with permission of the University of Arkansas Press. All rights reserved.