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.