Among the first we learn is good-bye, your tiny wrist between Dad's forefinger and thumb forced to wave bye-bye to Mom, whose hand sails brightly behind a windshield. Then it's done to make us follow: in a crowded mall, a woman waves, "Bye, we're leaving," and her son stands firm sobbing, until at last he runs after her, among shoppers drifting like sharks who must drag their great hulks underwater, even in sleep, or drown. Living, we cover vast territories; imagine your life drawn on a map— a scribble on the town where you grew up, each bus trip traced between school and home, or a clean line across the sea to a place you flew once. Think of the time and things we accumulate, all the while growing more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging, our bodies collect wrinkles and scars for each place the world would not give under our weight. Our thoughts get laced with strange aches, sweet as the final chord that hangs in a guitar's blond torso. Think how a particular ridge of hills from a summer of your childhood grows in significance, or one hour of light-- late afternoon, say, when thick sun flings the shadow of Virginia creeper vines across the wall of a tiny, white room where a girl makes love for the first time. Its leaves tremble like small hands against the screen while she weeps in the arms of her bewildered lover. She's too young to see that as we gather losses, we may also grow in love; as in passion, the body shudders and clutches what it must release.
From Eve's Striptease by Julia Kasdorf. Copyright © 1998 by Julia Kasdorf. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15261. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.
Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Born in 1962, Julia Spicher Kasdorf is the author of several collections of poetry and received the 1991 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for her book Sleeping Preacher
Date Published: 1998-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/first-gestures