Monday, February 19, 2007

Dim

MY ARMS

My arms are mostly cosmetic. If I say this
to a stranger, often he will wince,
he’ll look like he wants to hide
inside his eyes, be made to vanish
from that day. I shouldn’t say it,
shouldn’t laugh, should be tired twenty-one
years into the telling of what
is a poor joke, made of pain,
nerves snuffed like wicks. Back
then, I was a boy. No secret
that I fell through that
summer like a star. And here I am
anticipating spring, my ears
slave to birdsong after a long
winter. I look to the clouds
and think how once I prayed
my arms might serve me
again, roll toothpaste from the tube,
dump rice into boiling water,
swat dead the mosquito
drilling its derrick of a face
through my skin. That sum of symmetry,
left and right, one and one,
it’s not a math I know
much of. Not anymore
though there are days I want
to lament the broken
glass or put my fist
through the cheap door
or throttle the blue sky’s long, silent
throat. There are nights
full of ache, full of
nothing nimble. No music
but smashed guitars
would suffice. How many clasps did I try
with my teeth and at this
fail until she put
her hands to my raw
work? Untrue to say I lost count
of what I never wanted
to keep. Untrue to say that when we loved
and for me she put
my hands to her hips
to hold her body there above mine
that I loved such need,
that I did not hate us both.

4 comments:

Heather said...

Fuck.

Just fuck.

Shamrock said...

All of your poems make me think, and they all make me feel, but they don't all make me cry. This one did. Thank you.

brent goodman said...

Paul,

This poem is a beautiful sadness.

Brent

Dr. S said...

Yes, this is gorgeous, and terrible, and beautiful.