[from Martha Rhodes's Perfect Disappearance, New Issues, 2000]
Through Clouds, Their Whispers
A bridge, fallen. And so
they call me. Lie across our river, they beg
up through clouds, their whispers reach me.
Why should I bother? Why listen?
I have never been touched before, why now,
such intimacies -- they explain how they'll
move on me, rolling, stamping.
They'll dump garbage, furniture, their murdered.
Some god-help-them will jump from me, let them, I'm told.
How do they want me?
On my back looking up their skirts,
staring at their bulging zippers,
into their baby carriages? Or turned over?
Never before touched,
how many hands positioning me?
Then the planting of trees up my spine as I span their ankle-deep river.
They will celebrate me with bandstands, dog runs, bike paths.
I have never been, nor have I, touched. Do I dare do this?
When they walk across who will first wrap her long legs around me,
roll down that hill into this river, lie on its banks, spreading wide
so the breeze of me may dry her every and all afternoon, she will
walk across the small of my back, she will lie on my back,
gently day and night I will swing her to sleep.
But if my arms tire, and my legs
and my ribs, when they begin to crack
and I can no longer reach shore-to-shore (yes
even our bones shrink), which of you cousins
will listen if I call upward,
will any of you come for me,
or even remember me,
how twice each day
I stand in your midst --
we scrub and groom ourselves
with so much hope, as if
at last, in these clouds,
someone's there for each of us,
for each, a kiss.
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