Posts Tagged ‘touch’

for my daughter

“Snuggle,” she said,
a two-syllable passport
to another world—
the world in which
she is more dream
than mask, more breath
than task, her softness
inviting my softness,
and I slipped beside
her dream-scented body
and curled myself
into her shape,
one arm draped
across her weight,
and matched my inhale
to her inhale, matched
my every exhale to hers
and listened as once again
sleep took her,
and she was not curious,
not smart, not funny,
not brave, but so deeply
herself, and how could I not
fall deeper in love,
a pilgrim in this realm
of sweet defenselessness,
the silken luff of our breaths
weaving around us
like a cocoon.

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With such gentleness,
he stood behind me
and held me as I wept,
held me the way a pond holds a lotus,
the way a scarf holds perfume,
the way a man who has lost his child
holds the mother of the child,
his hands so light on my hands
as our fingers laced into a tender weave,
held me the way the pericardium holds the heart,
the way the eye holds a tear
then lets it slip away.

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I resist peeling beets,
hate wearing their red tint
on my hands,
but today, the thought
of sweet roasted beets
was enough to make me
overcome my reticence.
Later, I notice it is impossible
to feel separate and alone
when my hands wear the evidence
of what they have touched.
I find myself wishing
everyone could see on my skin
how my life has been marked by you,
how everywhere we touched
I wear the stain of love.

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            for Clea
We can go up there, she said,
nodding to the where the grave marker
was buried beneath feet of snow.
She knew it meant post holing
up over our knees. Uphill.
This, I thought, is true friendship.
So we wallowed through drifts
and laughed as we tripped.
And when we arrived at the place
where the ashes of my boy are buried,
I cried. And she did what the living can do—
she held me. She stood with me there
waist deep in snow and held me,
with her two strong arms, she held me.

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The Long Marriage

Perhaps I know you best in the dark—
that nightly shrine
where my belly meets your spine,
where the bend of my knees
meets the bend of your knees,
where my warmth meets your warmth,
the night a vase
in which we place
the stems of our bodies,
in which I know myself
through touch.
And nothing must be said
and nothing must be done
except to meet the long familiar flesh,
this honoring of nakedness.

Perhaps I know you best in the dark—
these lightless hours when
we sit in the midst of brokenness
and my hand finds your hand,
and my silence finds your silence,
my loss finds your loss,
and together, somehow,
we find peace.
And nothing can be said.
And nothing can be done
to change the past.
We meet in the these darkened hours,
with nothing but our willingness
to meet these darkened hours,
these hours we would have pushed away,
these hours that bring us closer to each other.

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After years,
what once
was enormous,
sharp and piercing
now is rounded,
fits like a marble
in the palm
of my hand.
This is what comes
from touching it,
brushing up against it,
holding it
again and again.
And again.
Once, it cut me.
Now, as I rub it
beneath my fingers,
it soothes me,
reminds me
how I, too,
have been softened,
how I, too,
have been embraced
and held
and nestled
until I am smooth.

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Tonight it’s his willowy body I miss,
the way it fit so easily into my arms,
the way he’d find me on the couch
and slip in beside me and loan me
for a time the full weight of his loneliness.
I miss how sometimes we’d say nothing
and let the quiet crests of our breath
be the only thing that need be said.
I miss how sometimes we’d talk for hours,
our thoughts unspooling like ink-dark yarn.
I miss nuzzling my face in his hair.
I miss being with him everywhere—
in the kitchen, in the car, in the yard,
on a plane, in town, on the pond,
in the store, by his desk. But most of all,
tonight, I miss him in my arms,
here in my too empty arms,
this place where so many years I held him,
this place where the memory of his beauty
still leans full weight against my chest.

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Oh, the Tenderness

To be touched.
That skin language
of hand and cheek,
arm and shoulder,
that is what
I need. Words,
yes, I love them,
but what has healed me
and held me
and kept me from drought
is a palm on my arm,
a chest where my head
can rest, an embrace
that lasts until my breath
becomes slow tide
and my whole body
leans into the trunk
of the one who is holding me.
I have been held
by near strangers,
held by beloveds,
held by invisible hands.
We are, of course, spirit,
but it is the body
that makes us human,
the body that bears
the grief. To be touched.
It saves me. Each caress,
a ray of light. Each embrace,
a soft rain that seeps
into the soil of the day
and says nothing at all,
but encourages what is still here
to grow, to believe
in green, in spring.

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Anything can be a holy path, says Kayleen,
and I begin to trace the outline of my left hand
with my right index finger, following
the familiar shape, surprised
at how intimate it is, this tiny tactile journey
of wrinkles and knuckles, fingers and thumb—
I close my eyes and my finger continues
to slowly travel the tips and webs, rises
and vees, a labyrinth of skin and nail
I navigate through touch.
How many years have I avoided knowing
myself as holy? How many days
have I desecrated this temple of flesh
and breath with belittling thoughts?
How many hours have I resisted the pleasure
I feel now as I explore this fleeting path,
this haptic trail steeped in awe?
Perhaps science could explain away
this divine excursion as nothing more
than a series of electrical impulses
moving at eighty feet per second
through my neural infrastructure,
but somehow knowing how the body works
makes this gentle path I choose today
even more oh! more holy.
*quote from Kayleen Asbo in “Blessing Thread: Wales and Ireland,” an online class

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Because I cannot be there to hold my father’s hand, 

I walk into my children’s room and hold my daughter and son 

as if love in one room emits a wave strong enough  

to be felt many states away. Because I am afraid, 

I don’t try to pretend I am not. Tears run hot 

down my face and I don’t dam them.   

When they dry, I let them dry. 

Because I am helpless to fix my father’s kidneys, 

I tell him I love him, as if words could help 

filter his blood before returning it to his heart, 

his tender heart.  

Because the helicopter is flying him to Miami, 

the blades of my worry begin to spin. 

Because I can’t stop them, I turn them 

into a giant wing that carries prayers 

into the rooms where I’m not allowed to go. 

And though I’m not there, I hold his hand, 

imagine it heavy in my own. Because maybe 

he can feel it. Because I don’t want him to be alone.  


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