By CONSTANCE MERRITT

ISBN-10: 0585238391

ISBN-13: 9780585238395

ISBN-10: 1574410830

ISBN-13: 9781574410839

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Additional resources for A Protocol for Touch (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 7)

Sample text

I forbid you To touch children or give them anything.  The priest's lips Are pale and thin, the ashen color of berries Taken by early frost some merchants try to sell.  Some days I've sought such fruit. There will be those who'll beg to kiss my sores, But none to take the gifts I'll ache to give. I bend, take up clapper and clothes, cask and bowl, My portion of abundance in the world, And turn toward the appointed place, a hut On the edge of town, unable to imagine How I'll say the words required: This retreat is mine.

And Judah said, what profit is it If we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Let us sell him for he is our brother and our flesh.  Instead there is only This brilliant coat, a gift of love, that leaves Her vulnerable to cold and knowing eyes Until it seems she has no skin at all Except for silence, except the weave of words: Hound's-tooth, gingham, tulle, eyelet, chambray; Broad-cloth, denim, paisley, linen, wool. Her dreams grow full of birdsong; each bird says Its name: Cardinalis Cardinalis, Anas Carolinensis, Cyanthus Latirostris, Mimus Polyglottos, Cyanocitta Stelleri, Agelaius Phoeneciusover and over, Until, finally, sure it's meant for her, She gently stirs the waters' smooth bright skin, And bursting from the deep into the world, Its fear, its hurt, its roar; she tries her tongue.

Returned as from the dead I find your arms At last, waiting, nothing left to desire, And I would to cry the unself-conscious way A small child cries its hunger to be rocked, Except within me lies a glaciered part Barbed words, debristhat will not let you near. My mother cut off her first husband's ear Before she held my dad with other arms Their king-size bed, her guns, equally a part Of what we must call love or strong desire. Could shots I never heard have really rocked Me loose from childhood and explain the way I resist your pull but cannot move away?

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A Protocol for Touch (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 7) by CONSTANCE MERRITT


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