Every night you were here,
after we made love, we'd go
out barefoot onto the back steps;
I stood behind you, twining
my fingers in your hair,
as you smoked one cigarette
silently in the moonlight.

For torturous months afterward,
random drifts of tobacco would
call back the startling fragility
of those moments: how lightly
I rested my hands on your body,
while I pulled my bathrobe tighter
as if the chill I felt were from
the August night, the cold cement.

You were just as far away
when I pressed you against me then
as you are now—a distance
not measurable in phone cable.
I have a dozen photographs
from that week—all blurred,
taken half-surreptitiously in the
harbor or the airport; I was
desperate to capture some
essential piece of you, and afraid
of awakening your resistance.
Every frame shows you impatient,
uncomfortable being held
so intimately in the lens of the camera:

The same expression you gave me
not too many weeks later,
the last time I moved to kiss you
good night in the front seat
of your car. You backed away,
and I got out, clumsily—tangled
in longing and resignation. As to
what you felt, I've known
nothing since then but
rare flashes, each a riddle
for deciphering late into the night.

Whatever hunger is in you,
I tapped it only once:
that first time under the streetlights,
the night we clung together
until the sky began to pale,
mad with discovery and
impending loss. It was a revelation
you did not want; and after,
you—whether in fear or bitterness,
I could not know—locked it
away from my sight, leaving me
haunted still by the visceral memory.

July 26, 1997

Copyright ©1997, 1999 by Erica Schultz Yakovetz. All rights reserved.
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