Your grandfather’s hands were brown.
Your grandmother kissed each knuckle,
circled an island into his palm
and told him which parts they would share,
which part they would leave alone.
She wet a finger to draw where the ocean would be
on his wrist, kissed him there,
named the ocean after herself.
Your grandfather’s hands were slow but urgent.
Your grandmother dreamt them,
a clockwork of fingers finding places to own—
under the tongue, collarbone, bottom lip,
arch of foot.
Your grandmother names his fingers after seasons—
index finger, a wave of heat,
middle finger, rainfall.
Some nights his thumb is the moon
nestled just under her rib.
Your grandparents often found themselves
in dark rooms, mapping out
each other’s bodies,
claiming whole countries
with their mouths.
For surely whiteness
is best described through greyness
bird through stone
in the past love poems
described this and that
eyelashes for instance
should be described
through greyness sun through rain
poppies in November
lips at night
the most telling
description of bread
is one of hunger
the damp porous centre
the warm interior
sunflowers at night
breasts belly thighs of Cybele
is the description of thirst
it conjures up a mirage
clouds and trees enter
is the description of love
the contemporary love poem
oh, how worried they are about my
I get letters
the phone rings…
“are you going to be all right?”
“I’ll be all right,” I tell them.
“I’ve seen so many go down the drain,”
they tell me.
“don’t worry about me,” I say.
yet, they make me nervous
I go in and take a shower
come out and squeeze a pimple on my
then I go into the kitchen and make
a salami and ham sandwich.
I used to live on candy bars.
now I have imported German mustard
for my sandwich. I might be in danger
the phone keeps ringing and the letters keep
if you live in a closet with rats and
eat dry bread
they like you.
you’re a genius
or if you’re in the madhouse or
they call you a genius.
or if you’re drunk and shouting
vomiting your life-guts on
you’re a genius.
but get the rent paid up a month in
put on a new pair of stockings
go to the dentist
make love to a healthy clean girl
instead of a whore
and you’ve lost your
I’m not interested enough to ask about
I suppose I