Poetry / September 2010 (Issue 12)


by Annie Zaidi

If a lover wants to be
close, closer
than skin, so close that he steps
past the flappings of love,
past the throb and thud of the heart,
if a lover wants to live inviolate
in your shell, let him be
that shelf between need and need,
between air and food.

Let him curl up, upside down,
like a fleshy dome touching
all your cordoned-off wants.
Let him make himself small
whenever you must breathe.

Let him be taut as a phrenic nerve.
Let him carry the risk of paralysis.
Let him be untouchable and if teased,
leave you hiccupping. Let him be
the deep breath that must be held
until you break.

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