When I was a child I rolled in the earth:

dirt, sand, grass, and snow, falling into

drifts like pillows, into water so cold

I turned purple, into sand still crusted

with snow, into dirt again—cradling me.


When I was a child I touched, was touched

as I pressed into my mother’s tender body

for warmth against the chill, or felt

my grandmother’s hand, twisted yet strong,

on my shoulder as we walked the moors, or

the wrapping of my sisters’ legs around me

as we played bucking bronco, snorting

and squealing and charging the table, then

my father’s fingers on my neck, dropping snow

down it as I twist away, the cold dripping

down my back, him laughing: a little boy.


The touch of my friends as we clung together

in the dark echoes of the barn, in mourning,

then quick hugs for luck as we went onstage,

congratulations afterwards with tiny cups

of warm champagne, smacks of stage kisses,

backstage flirting, and the clash of stage fights,

body joining body, energy flaring, glancing off

the plastic shields and flimsy wooden swords.


And now I do not touch, I am not

touched, my body translated, separate

from all sensation save the hot glance

of the sun, the close kiss of the rain,

and the teasing feathered edge

of a passing cat’s wavering tail.


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